Nikko prepares for India funds entry

Nikko Asset Management is setting up a joint venture with Indian investment bank Ambit.
Nikko Asset Management has established a joint venture in India that will apply next year for a license to conduct onshore asset management business, says Bill Wilder, president and CEO in Tokyo.

Nikko AM has partnered with Ambit RSM Private, a Mumbai-based investment bank and private-equity firm that has also launched a securities business earlier this year. The JV, which has yet to be named, will be owned 74.9% by Nikko and 25.1% by Ambit.

Wilder says the initial scope of the JVÆs activity will be to provide research for Nikko AMÆs existing Brics fund, a $1 billion product currently managed out of Singapore, of which around 15% is invested in Indian equities. Nikko AM plans to transfer two analysts from Singapore to Mumbai to cover Indian stocks.

But Nikko AM has ambitions to be a pan-region player, not just a Japanese money manager. To that end it is keen to compete in IndiaÆs onshore funds space. It also wants to transfer some members of its existing China A-share equities team from Tokyo to China, and eventually forge a China joint venture funds company. But Wilder says the firm does not yet have a partner, and says the regulatory requirements in China are more complicated. Nikko AM has a China QFII license and a fully invested quota of $450 million.

Rajen Doshi has been appointed as the India JVÆs CEO. Doshi has been working in senior management and operations positions at companies in the United States, most recently General Electric for the past four years.

Although foreigners can wholly own a funds business in India, Nikko AM preferred to work with a partner that could provide market knowledge and distribution channels. Also, the capital requirements for a wholly owned business license are much greater than a JVÆs. This is the first time Nikko and Ambit have worked together.

Doshi says that although the Indian funds market is filling up with foreign entrants, the growth opportunity is greater. ôThis is just the beginning for realising IndiaÆs potential,ö he says. ôThe market will be able to accommodate all of us.ö
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