The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Birla Sun keen to buy Zurich, Alliance funds

Calcutta, Nov. 21: Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund is keen to grow through acquisitions. It is eyeing Alliance and Zurich mutual funds, which are said to be on the block. “We do not have a clear understanding whether the two mutual funds are up for sale, but if they are, we are interested in acquiring them,” said S. K. Mitra, director (financial services) of the A. V. Birla group.

Though there are no clear indications from the management of Alliance and Zurich, the industry believes the two are on the block.

“There’s a buzz in the air… we have had no discussion with them as yet,” Mitra clarified, adding that Birla Sun Life would be interested only if they are available for a “reasonable price”.

“We are going to pay a higher price for their equity schemes than the short-term debt funds,” Mitra added. Birla Sun Life, however, is not interested in Dundee Mutual Fund, which it considers, too small.

Dundee had reached an agreement with Srei International Finance Ltd for transfer of the assets under its management, but the latter recently broke off the deal for want of approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi).

Besides the country’s largest private mutual fund, the A. V. Birla group and the Sun Life Financial Group jointly run a life insurance company. To expand its range of financial services, the Birla Sun Life alliance is close to finalising a partnership with UTI Bank.

“Under the arrangement, we will give preference to UTI Bank for all our banking requirements. In return, the bank is going to sell our mutual fund, insurance and other financial services,” Mitra said.

Birla Sun Life is planning to launch an “innovative” equity-linked insurance scheme and a unit-linked pension scheme in the next two months. The board of directors of the company has already decided to launch the schemes. “We will approach the authorities for approval shortly,” Mitra said.

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