NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India may be forced to delay selling its stake in Axis Bank Ltd because of a weak stock market, The Economic Times newspaper reported on Saturday, citing unnamed market sources and an investment banker aware of the development.
India was planning to raise 70 billion rupees ($950 million) by selling 4 percent of its stake in Axis Bank by early November, the newspaper reported, adding that a delay would be a setback for the government in meeting its divestment target for the year.
The government holds a 9.6 percent stake in Axis Bank through state-owned entity Specified Undertaking of Unit Trust of India (SUUTI).
Axis Bank, India’s third-biggest private sector lender, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. A spokesman at India’s finance ministry could not immediately be reached.
Since the beginning of the year the rupee has fallen by 14 percent, while the price of crude oil has risen by 37.4 percent sending India’s stock market into a tailspin.
The situation has been exacerbated by a series of defaults at ailing shadow banking firm Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) which has undermined confidence in India’s financial sector and triggered declines in the nation’s stock and bond markets.
India’s National Stock Exchange (NSE) index fell 5.62 percent this week, while the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) index shed 5.11 percent, their sharpest drop since the week ending Feb. 12, 2016.
($1 = 73.7650 Indian rupees)
Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Andrew Heavens