ECONOMY

SoftBank-Backed Policybazaar Seeks to Join India Tech IPO Train

Online insurance marketplace Policybazaar has filed for an initial public offering that could raise as much as 60.18 billion rupees ($809 million), joining a growing list of startups preparing to tap capital markets as India’s digital economy booms.

The SoftBank Group Corp.-backed startup has submitted initial documents with the market regulator to raise up to 37.5 billion rupees via a sale of new shares, according to a public notice published Monday. Existing shareholders will seek to sell as much as 22.68 billion rupees worth of shares. PB Fintech Pvt, the startup’s parent, said it may consider a 7.5 billion rupee pre-IPO placement of stock.

Policybazaar, also backed by Tiger Global Management and Tencent Holdings Ltd., was founded in 2008 to tap the large population of under-insured in a country of 1.3 billion people. It joins an Indian tech funding boom that accelerated after Zomato Ltd.’s July debut received a rousing response from investors, who have since sent its stock soaring roughly 80%. More than a dozen startups are preparing to debut on the stock markets in the next 18 months.

Policybazaar, based in Gurgaon outside of Delhi, allows users to compare prices and features of life, health, auto, travel and property insurance policies from dozens of providers. Customers side-step conventional agents or middlemen, who typically tout policies based on incentives.

Its customer service representatives help buyers submit claims, redeem paybacks and amend policies. Indians have a pressing need for insurance coverage, its founder and Chief Executive Officer Yashish Dahiya told Bloomberg News last year when spelling out its IPO plans. Most middle-class Indians haven’t arranged adequate cover for health setbacks or purchased life insurance, he said, despite the prevalence of chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.

Policybazaar is in a competitive field. Fintech startups including Acko General Insurance backed by Amazon.com Inc. and Paytm parent One97 Communications Ltd., backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., are racing to loosen the choke-hold of state-backed insurers on a tightly regulated financial services segment. Paytm has also made a regulatory filing for its own stock market debut, expected later this year.

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