Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM) has received regulatory approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) to start a wholly owned asset management and mutual fund business in India.

The approval was granted to Goldman Sachs Asset Management Company (India), a subsidiary of the Goldman Sachs Group, to act as the investment manager of the Goldman Sachs Mutual Fund.

Adam Broder has been named CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management Company (India) while Prashant Khemka has been named CIO.

ôIndia is one of the most important countries to our Asian business and we have a long-term strategic commitment to this market,ö says Broder.

Khemka, who moved to Mumbai in September 2006, brings to the new Indian operations his on-the-ground investment experience as well as his international exposure with GSAM. Most recently, he was the head of the GSAM research team in Mumbai, which was set up in December 2006.

Prior to moving to Mumbai, Khemka was a senior portfolio manager and co-chair of the investment committee for the growth equity team of GSAM in the US. He joined Goldman Sachs in 2000 as an investment research associate. Before GSAM, he worked as an assistant portfolio manager in the fundamental strategies group at State Street Global Advisors.

Additional information on Broder was not immediately available.

India will continue to be one of the fastest growing asset management markets in the world and will see total assets in its fund industry grow to Rs12.8 trillion ($325 billion) over the next five years, according to Boston-based research firm Cerulli Associates. Indian mutual fund assets stood at Rs5.4 trillion ($137.6 billion) at the end of 2007, up 67% from the year before.

IndiaÆs fund industry has seen an unprecedented expansion over the last three years, with year-on-year growth rates of 32%, 62%, and 68%, respectively, according to Cerulli. This has been largely propelled by the bull run on the Indian stock markets in previous years, which has led a number of international asset managers to enter the market.

GSAM is the latest in the string of new entrants to IndiaÆs mutual fund industry over the past two years. Mirae Asset Financial Group, AIG, Axa Investment Managers and Pioneer Global Asset Management are among those that have already set up asset management operations in India. German insurer Allianz is reportedly in the final stages of forming a fund management joint venture in India with a listed local firm.

GSAMÆs setting up of operations in India marks the continuation of its expansion in Asia. Last year, the fund house acquired Macquarie-IMM Investment Management in Korea, giving it a foothold in that lucrative market.

When looking at potential acquisitions in Asia, ownership and management control is important to GSAM. China, which limits foreign ownership of fund management joint ventures to 49%, is one market where GSAM has yet to enter.