On July 7, AsiaÆs oldest stock exchange, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) announced that Kotak Mahindra Capital has been mandated to find it a strategic partner.

The BSE was founded in 1875 and historically operated as an association of persons - owned by its 735 broker members who own 10,000 shares each. However, after the BSE (Corporatisation and Demutualisation) scheme of 2005 it corporatised itself the same year. The change was a means to address concerns regarding conflicts of interest.

As part of the changed structure, the shareholding of its members must be reduced from 100% to 49% in compliance with regulatory requirements. The BSE intends to achieve this through a 26% selldown to a strategic investor at the first stage and a subsequent 25% share offering through an IPO.

THE BSE announced that it is open to an investment by a local or global entity and the partner could be another stock exchange or a multilateral agency, bank or a clearing house. Ideally, it would like to complete the strategic sale by end of the year so that it can be listed by the middle of 2007.

The BSE is professionally managed and its board of directors has a number of well known industry professionals. It has a presence in more then 400 cities and towns in India. As of May, 2006 there were 4,801 companies and 7,408 scrips listed on the BSE.

The benchmark BSE 30 share index, the Sensex, is one of the most keenly watched stockmarket indicators in the country.