South Africa-based Momentum Group, a subsidiary of Momentum Holdings, and Kumar Mangalam Birla-controlled diversified business conglomerate Aditya Birla Group, are in talks to form a health insurance joint venture in India, according to The Economic Times citing the Indian firm's top executive looking after financial services.

The report said AV Birla Group would have 74 per cent stake while Momentum will own the remaining 26 per cent, the maximum it can as per existing FDI norms in the sector. The regulations are in the process of being relaxed with the ceiling of FDI being raised to 49 per cent.

The multi-billion dollar business group AV Birla forayed into the insurance sector in 2010 when it formed a life insurance JV with Canadian firm Sun Life Financial Inc.

The other Indian companies in the insurance sector are Apollo Munich, Max Bupa, Star Health & Allied Insurance and Religare. The fresh entrant is Cigna TTK, a joint venture between US-based Cigna and India's TTK Group.

There are other global companies reportedly looking to enter India's health insurance market including South Africa's Discovery and US-based Aetna Inc and Humana Inc.

Momentum Holdings, the third-largest life insurer in South Africa, is engaged in the business of long and short-term insurance, asset management, savings, investment, healthcare administration, health risk management, employee benefits and reward programmes.

Another South African financial services firm Sanlam has an exposure to the insurance market in India through a joint venture with Shriram Group.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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