x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Firms look abroad as India falters

India Dispatch: Indian companies are likely to increasingly look to list overseas amid a bleak economic environment at home, analysts say.

A display screen on the facade of the Bombay Stock Exchange building in Mumbai. The local markets have fallen sharply. Rajanish Kakade / AP Photo
A display screen on the facade of the Bombay Stock Exchange building in Mumbai. The local markets have fallen sharply. Rajanish Kakade / AP Photo

Indian companies are likely to increasingly look to list overseas amid a bleak economic environment at home, analysts say.

"Currently, I would presume that promoters would not feel very confident on the kind of valuation they would get on the Indian exchanges considering the global sentiment towards Indian equities right now," said Sonam Udasi, the senior vice president and the head of research at IDBI Capital.

Foreign investors pulled out almost 30 billion rupees (Dh1.61bn) from Indian equities last week, according to data from the securities and exchange board of India.

Stock markets have fallen sharply, with the S&P BSE Sensex yesterday closing at 17,996.15 points from levels above 20,000 last month.

Investors have been withdrawing funds from emerging markets following signals that the US Federal Reserve planned to wind down its stimulus programme.

India has a number of issues of its own, which means the country has been particularly hard hit. Economic growth slowed to a decade low of 5 per cent in the past financial year, while the country continues to struggle with the rupee, which closed at a new low yesterday of 68.825, as well as high inflation and wide deficits.

Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Company, one of India's largest shipbuilding companies, based in Mumbai and listed on India's Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange, last month revealed that it planned to raise US$150 million through a listing on the London Stock Exchange.

The company said the listing was planned by October and would help to "reduce overall debt equity and strengthen the balance sheet significantly", as it planned to invest in its subsidiaries.

Havells, which is India's largest electrical parts maker, is also considering listing its overseas business in London, according to a Bloomberg report this month.

American and London listings are the preferred options for Indian companies because of the access to investors and capital in those markets, Mr Udasi said.

"Singapore is a distant third," he added.

He pointed out that many Indian companies would fail to qualify for the strict filing requirements demanded in the United Kingdom and the United States.

The cost of listing abroad would also prevent many firms from actually going through with the process following evaluation, he said.

"I don't think many of the Indian promoters are thinking of delisting [from the Indian stock exchanges]," said Mr Udasi. "You don't change your strategy. It's a cycle. However, there are current equity needs."

The Indian government is reportedly considering allowing unlisted Indian firms to list abroad.

Last week, unnamed sources at the finance ministry told the The Economic Times that the government believed there were unlisted Indian companies that could successfully raise capital overseas.

"It's a good idea as there are specialised investors and specialised exchanges that prefer certain sectors," Ashutosh Maheshwari, the chief executive of Motilal Oswal Investment Advisors, was quoted as saying.

"For example mining and metals is a favourite on the Toronto stock exchange."

Mr Udasi agreed, saying: "A need for money. I think [the government] would be happy to give them all options because India's banking system cannot help them beyond a certain point. Guys who need equity right now, such as those who have large projects, if they were to go to the [Indian] market right now and look to dilute 5 per cent, the stock correction will be so substantial."

He said that small and medium companies were more in need of solutions for raising money than large caps.

But not everyone was convinced that Indian companies would have success listing overseas.

"I don't think the global perception of India is very conducive," said Kamal Sen, the president and chief executive of Cogitaas, a consultancy.

"Most Indian companies are domestic players, and their valuation depends on the growth of the domestic market. So given a domestic downturn, I don't think overseas listings can help very much."

 

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