India Said to Mull Reducing $1.7 Billion Stake in Axis Bank

  • Government holds almost 12% of Axis via Unit Trust of India
  • Nation seeking to narrow fiscal deficit to eight-year low

India’s Finance Ministry is considering a plan to sell part or all of a $1.7 billion stake in Axis Bank Ltd. as the government tries to narrow the country’s budget deficit, people familiar with the matter said.

The administration may pare the 11.6 percent stake held through the Specified Undertaking of the Unit Trust of India, the people said, asking not to be identified as a final decision hasn’t been taken. D. S. Malik, a spokesman for the Finance Ministry, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s goal is a budget deficit of 3.9 percent of gross domestic product in the year ending March, an eight-year low. So far, India has raised just 127 billion rupees of an asset-sale target of 695 billion rupees for this fiscal year, government data shows.

Axis Bank shares fell 5 percent in Mumbai on Thursday to 409.25 rupees, the lowest since October 2014. That exceeded the 2.2 percent drop in the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex.

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