Mumbai, Jan 31 (PTI) State-run Punjab National Bank will be diluting a minor stake in its life insurance joint venture PNB Metlife and own over 26 per cent of the venture, a top official said Thursday.

There was no word from the management on a media report of its partner Metlife increasing its stake in the venture, which has filed to come out with an IPO this year.

“In the DRHP (draft red herring prospectus), they (PNB) have chosen only to dilute a small percentage, they want to hold the substantial holding at more than 26 percent. So, therefore that signals you their intention,” the company’s managing director and chief executive Ashish Srivastava told reporters here.

He was replying to a question on reports of the government asking lenders to concentrate on its core activity of banking, rather than in other ventures.

The resolve to keep the holding at 26 percent makes the intention clear, he said, citing a statement from PNB’s managing director which talked of the company being an asset with a long-term value.

Srivastava said Metlife’s stake in the venture currently stands at 32 per cent.

“Both our promoters believe in this business and know the India story and are solidly behind us,” he said.

On the IPO plans, he said the issue will have to come before November 2 as that is the deadline by which it has to get it done.

However, the volatilities in the market have resulted in the wait and watch, he said, adding the company and the shareholders continue to be in touch with the arrangers for the issue.

The company has a minor exposure in debt to the financially crippled IL&FS and was lucky to have exited at the right time through maturing of debt, he said.

Srivastava credited its parent Metlife for helping avoid any mishaps in investments.

The company is growing at 12 percent as against the industry growth of 8 percent, he said, adding that the margins also stand at 17 percent at present, which should display more growth going forward.

Over 15 percent of the new business premium is in protection, which is higher than the industry average, Srivastava said, adding it continues to expect a “good trajectory” on this front going ahead.

The company Thursday came out with a new logo and appointed badminton player P V Sindhu as its brand ambassador.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.