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Lenders to the world, here to borrow

Mumbai, Oct. 2: Investors lend to companies through capital markets. Now, lenders to the world have decided to borrow at India’s stock exchanges.

In the best possible sign yet that Indian financial markets are coming of age, two leading multilateral organisations will soon shop for funds in India’s Wall Street.

The market top cop says International Finance Corporation (IFC) of Washington and the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) will list their debt papers listed on bourses here. That effectively means the two of the world’s biggest creditors will raise money through instruments that will be traded here.

G. . Bajpai, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), said this at a congregation of finance mavens which had descended to mark the start of work at the regulator’s new office. Once complete, this Bandra-Kurla Complex office will be its hub, just the way it is for top banks and financial institutions.

Finance minister Jaswant Singh, who presided over the function as the chief guest, urged the throng of corporate captains — from HDFC’s Deepak Parekh, SBI’s A. K. Purwar, LIC’s S. B. Mathur and Ajay Piramal — to make Mumbai a financial services nerve-centre for this part of the world. “Why should India not be a regional hub for a financial centre'” he asked.

“We should improve the financial sector to provide services to the entire region and we can do this,” said the finance minister after laying the foundation stone for Sebi’s new address and being shown around the complex.

“The Indian business and finance community has a natural flair to deal with money and capital markets. The people working in this sector should go out in the world to grab opportunities. The government will provide all support to this endeavour.”

He cited the example of how Surat, long considered the cradle of banking in India, perfected the hundi, the traditional bill of exchange.

Referring to the growth of the economy, Singh said: “Our growth must never stop and we should keep engaging in new activities. You should go and conquer the world. It’s yours. I will give you whatever support you need.”

The Sebi chief said the regulator has crafted a four-pronged strategy, including revamping the organisation and establishment of a data centre, to bring Indian capital market on a par with global standards. Along with NSDL, it will set up a central data-base that will be a repository of information on financial markets.

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