HDFC Life, SBI Life, ICICI Pru slip 3-6% as tax rate may increase under new direct tax law

November 23
16:05 2017
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SBI Life Insurance Company, HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company and Max Financial Services (Max Life) shares fell 3-6 percent intraday Thursday as tax rate for insurance companies may increase to corporate tax rate level.

The Finance Ministry has constituted a task force for redrafting the direct tax law. The task force will submit its report within the next six months. Notably, the FY09 direct tax code had two proposed changes with respect to life insurance companies:

1> Income from insurance for policyholders to be considered under the EET method (i.e. insurance income should be taxable) unless premium payable is less than 5 percent of sum assured i.e. sum assured should be 20X of premium.

With focus on selling more protection policies, Kotak believes that it may not be a challenge for life insurance companies to package and sell higher component of protection in their ULIPs.

2> Life insurance companies should pay income tax at corporate tax rates (proposed at 25 percent) as compared to current practice of 14.3 percent.

Insurance actuaries are currently building in tax rate of 14.3 percent.

Kotak said increase in tax rate would have one time impact on embedded value (EV) and going forward lower NBAP (new business achieved profit) margins.

ICICI Prudential Life and HDFC Standard Life, in their IPO documents, have reported sensitivity of EV and new business value (NBV) to higher tax rates.

If tax rate increases to 25 percent from 14.3 percent, Kotak estimates EV and RoEV (return on embedded value) of HDFC Life, ICICI Life and Max Life assuming 7-9 percent lower FY2017 EV and 13-17 percent decline in NBV margins.

Sharekhan also feels this will impact on the margins of the industry players. As per reports this may be announced in next few months, he said.

At 14:04 hours IST, the stock price of SBI Life Insurance Company was down 3.05 percent at Rs 670.05, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company down 4.12 percent at Rs 378.30, HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company was down 5.11 percent at Rs 375 while Max Financial Services was down 3.10 percent at Rs 566.75 on the BSE.

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