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Max India Ltd has begun discussion with its life insurance joint venture partner, New York Life International, to sell a 23 percent stake in the venture for as much as 30 billion rupees ($626 million), the Business Standard said.

New York Life currently holds a 26 percent stake in the insurance firm, the maximum permitted for foreign firms under current rules. The government is expected to raise the limit to 49 percent shortly.

The U.S. firm has an agreement with the Indian partner to buy up to additional 24 percent in the venture when rules are amended.

Max India has said New York Life will have to pay a price based on fair market value for any additional stake, as per the agreement.

Max India Chairman Analjit Singh told the paper he hoped to complete the transaction in six months, subject to rules being relaxed. The additional stake may be valued at 30 billion rupees, the paper said, citing unnamed sources.

A Max India spokesman declined to comment on whether talks had begun for the stake sale, but said they were committed to the agreement with New York Life.

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