By Ira Dugal
MUMBAI (Reuters) -Citi India expects to see equity capital market deals worth $20-22.5 billion in 2023, amid strong local markets and a stable economy, the Wall Street bank’s India chief executive said in an interview with Reuters.
Last year, $19.4 billion was raised on India’s equity capital markets, according to data from LSEG.
“Initial public offerings have come back and you have seen a flurry of block deal activity given where markets are. Now we are starting to see institutional share sales as well,” said Ashu Khullar.
Foreign portfolio investors have bought a net $11 billion in equity so far this year, according to India’s National Securities Depository, helping to lift India’s benchmark equity indexes to record highs.
Conversations around mergers are also on the rise, said Khullar, who said deals worth $85 billion have been struck so far this year, with Citi India holding a 22.6% market share.
“Given the interest in India as a market, at some point people will look at both organic and inorganic way to come into the market,” Khullar said.
India’s recent inclusion in JPMorgan’s emerging markets bond index, which will potentially bring in $25-30 billion in debt inflows in the financial year ending March 2025, creates opportunities for Citi to offer a market platform, trading, sales and custody services to new investors, Khullar said.
THE INDIA OPPORTUNITY
The Indian economy is forecast to grow at 6.5% in the financial year ending March 31, 2024, making it the fastest growing major economy.
Citi has been holding roadshows across Asia and Europe meeting with potential India investors, Khullar said. “One thing we are consistently hearing is that every board wants to have an India strategy.”
Locally, the economy is seeing early signs of a pick-up in private investment not just from the large industrial conglomerates but also mid-sized companies, which bankers are now targeting more actively.
Citi India, which concluded a sale of its local consumer businesses to Axis Bank in March this year, is now focused on its institutional businesses.
A broader reorganisation underway at Citi globally, which will include layoffs and reassignments, is unlikely to further impact India, he said.
“If you are focused on institutional businesses at a country level, as we are now in India, frankly, it means no change for our business,” he said.
“While there could be small changes here and there, India remains a growth market.”
($1 = 83.2282 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Ira Dugal; editing by Christina Fincher)