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Pirmadienis, 09 rugpjūčio 2010
Ft.com | By James Fontanella-Khan in Mumbai
India is planning to open the country’s equity markets to foreign retail investors in its latest move to reform Asia’s third-largest economy and boost its double-digit growth hopes, people familiar with the matter said.
A panel set up by the government to explore ways of increasing foreign capital inflows had recommended that the finance ministry make it easier for foreigners – in particular wealthy foreign nationals of Indian origin – to buy shares on Indian exchanges, a person who worked on the panel said.

Ashvin Parekh, a partner at Ernst & Young in Mumbai, who has also been working with the finance ministry on the project, said: “The finance ministry has accepted the recommendations in principle as it wants to capitalise on India’s incredible growth by attracting more foreign investors.”

Foreign institutional investors were first allowed to invest in India 18 years ago. Foreign-owned brokers are common and trade directly on India’s exchanges.

Individual investors are prohibited from doing so.

Mr Parekh said that the plan to open the market to retail investors abroad had been passed on to India’s market regulator and central bank, which would have to create a framework to protect investors’ interests.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India and the Reserve Bank of India could not be reached for comment.

The plan comes as India’s exchanges are upgrading technology in a bid to attract high-speed, computer-driven trading that accounts for a large proportion of activity on US and European bourses.

It comes as the government seeks to raise about $5bn by selling minority stakes in state-owned groups, including Oil India and Coal India, and as investors eye India for higher returns.

The equity market in India has attracted much foreign institutional investor cash in the past six months, outperforming large emerging markets rivals, as the economy has grown 8.5 per cent on the back of strong domestic demand and abundant liquidity.

Foreign institutional investors have poured nearly $11bn into Indian equities in the first seven months of this year, compared with $7.45bn during the same period last year. Analysts expect inflows for this year to top the $17bn record hit in 2007.

Analysts and mutual fund executives said any move to open the Indian equities market to foreign individuals would further boost inflows into India’s economy and compensate for a slowdown in the global economy.

Ridham Desai, Morgan Stanley’s chief India equity strategist, said the plan to allow foreign individuals to buy shares on Indian exchanges was “a step in the right direction”.
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