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One confirmed XE case in India, no reports of clusters in country: INSACOG

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In the bulletin for April 18 and 25, INSACOG mentions that one case of coronavirus XE varient has been confirmed in the country.Photo: Unsplash/Mufid Majnun

India now has a confirmed case of a person infected with the XE variant, according to Indian SARS-CoV2 Genomics Sequencing Consortium (INSACOG) bulletin. The location is not known yet.

INSACOG is a network of national testing laboratories set up by the government. In the bulletin for April 18 and 25, INSACOG mentions that one case of XE has been confirmed in the country. The location of the person is not yet known, and the Union  is yet to issue any statement on the matter.

In the latest bulletin, INSACOG said that  (BA.2) is the dominant variant in India till date. “As compared to the previous week, 12 states have shown an increase in cases, while nineteen states have shown a decline,” it said, adding that suspected recombinant sequences are under further analysis.

“BA.2.10 and BA.2.12 are BA.2 sub-lineages that have been detected and many old BA.2 sequences have been reclassified into these new sub-lineages. So far these sub-lineages are not reported to be associated with increased severity of disease,” the bulletin said.

Detailing the distribution of the variants of concern (VoC), INSACOG bulletin said there were 4266 Alpha variants, 220 Beta, 3 Gamma, 43928 Delta, 5607 of B.1.617 and B.1.617.3, 20450 AY series, 45359 Omicron, and 1 XE variant in the total 119,834 samples sequenced.

Therefore, one case of XE is confirmed in the country.

Experts have said that the XE sub-variant is 10 per cent more transmissible than the dominant BA.2 variant of Omicron, which had triggered the third wave in the country in January.

So far there are no reports of XE clusters across India.

The BA.2.12.1, the  sub-lineage that is causing the rise in Covid-19 cases in the National Capital Region (NCR), has a mutation in the spike protein which is akin to a mutation found only in the Delta lineage. Whether this causes any severity in infections is to be seen, but so far, clinicians claim that most Covid-19 positive cases are asymptomatic or mild.

Speaking to Business Standard, Shahid Jameel, ssenior research fellow at Green Templeton College at Oxford University explained that  now has two main lineages – the BA.1 and the BA.2 – both with several sub lineages. “As a group, BA.2 spreads about 20 percent better than BA.1,” he said, adding that there are two key mutations in the spike in BA.2.12.1.

“There are two key mutations in Spike in BA.2.12.1 that are missing from BA.2.12 and other sub lineages. These are L452Q and S704L. Of these a similar (not identical) mutation L452R is found only in the Delta lineage,” Jameel explained.

How the XE variant behaves in terms of spread and degree of infection is yet to be seen.

LIC IPO: Over 70% of anchor allotment made to domestic mutual funds

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LIC raises a total of Rs 5,627 crore in anchor book; overseas funds pour in just Rs 1,624 croreLife Insurance Corporation

 of India (LIC) on Monday raised Rs 5,627 crore from anchor investors ahead of its mega initial public offering (IPO), with 71 per cent of the amount coming from domestic  (MFs), shows a late disclosure made by the company.

In total, the state-owned insurance giant allotted nearly 59.3 million shares to 123 investors at Rs 949 apiece.

“Out of the total allocation of 59,296,853 equity shares to the anchor investors, 42,173,610 equity shares (71 per cent of the total allocation) were allotted to 15 domestic  through 99 schemes,” LIC said in a stock exchange disclosure.

 Mutual Fund subscribed to shares worth over Rs 1,000 crore via four different schemes. ICICI Prudential MF subscribed to shares worth over Rs 700 crore through over half a dozen schemes and HDFC MF subscribed to shares worth over Rs 650 crore of the insurer via 10 different schemes. Aditya Birla Sun Life MF and Axis MF were other major subscribers among domestic fund houses.

Among foreign funds, the Singapore government’s sovereign wealth fund (GIC) subscribed to shares worth over Rs 400 crore through three funds and BNP Investments subscribed to shares worth nearly Rs 450 crore.

A little over Rs 1,600 crore came from overseas funds. The low demand from foreign funds is on the back of ongoing risk aversion among foreign portfolio investors (FPIs). So far this year, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) have sold shares worth Rs 1.3 trillion ($17.3 billion), according to data provided by NSDL.

To benefit LIC, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has deferred the implementation of the stricter 90-day lock-in period for anchor investors in the case of large IPOs (over Rs 10,000 crore in size) until July 1. Investors who have subscribed to LIC’s shares under the anchor category will have to adhere to only a 30-day lock-in period.

The insurer’s IPO will remain open from May 4 to May 9. After accounting for the anchor book, the IPO still has to generate bids for shares worth nearly Rs 15,000 crore.

The company is relying heavily on bids from small investors. Over Rs 8,500 crore worth of shares are reserved for retail investors (those placing bids worth up to Rs 200,000), policyholders, and employees in the IPO. Besides, rich individuals can also bid in the non-institutional investor (NII) category.

Due to demand uncertainty, the government has reduced the equity dilution in the IPO from 5 per cent to 3.5 per cent. The issue size has also been reduced significantly from an estimated Rs 60,000 crore to just Rs 20,557 crore (after accounting for policyholder and retail discounts).

Despite the reduced size, LIC’s IPO will be India’s biggest ever, surpassing the Rs 18,300-crore IPO by One97 Communications (Paytm) in November 2021. The digital payments major, however, had a larger anchor book, worth Rs 8,235 crore. This was because Paytm didn’t meet the profitability criteria and hence had to set aside a larger portion of shares for institutional investors.

“The IPO of LIC will be a landmark event for Indian capital  and is likely to attract several first-time investors. This is also likely to give momentum to the disinvestment agenda of the government. External factors, as well as inflationary pressures, will continue to keep our  volatile in the immediate future and thus companies with a strong profit record or scalable business model may only be able to attract investors for IPO in the near term,” said Sandip Khetan, partner and financial accounting advisory services leader, EY India.

The price band for LIC’s IPO is Rs 902-949 per share. At the top end, the company will have a market cap of Rs 6 trillion, 1.1 times its embedded value of Rs 5.4 trillion as of September 2021.

Most domestically listed private sector life insurers trade between 2.4 times and 3.8 times. However, some of the big global insurance companies trade at a market cap-to-embedded value of less than one.

Post-listing, LIC will be India’s fifth most valuable firm ahead of Hindustan Unilever and ICICI Bank, and slightly below Infosys.

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