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Merrill sees big scope

Mumbai, May 7: Merrill Lynch is looking at new business opportunities in India, including real estate.

John Thain, chairman and CEO of the US investment bank, said the firm would help in the expansion of medium-sized companies and focus on cross-border mergers and acquisitions.

Merrill is bullish about India at a time when it has posted a quarterly loss of $2 billion and wants to cut 4,000 jobs, primarily in the US.

India is one of the most attractive markets in the world now because of its high domestic demand and economic growth, Thain said.

“If you consider opportunity vis-a-vis risk, India is one of the most attractive markets in the world.”

Merrill is present in the country through DSP Merrill Lynch, in which it holds near 90 per cent stake.

Because of its high demand, economic growth, strength of companies to go global and huge spending in infrastructure, India will be less affected by the US slowdown, he said.

Merrill, which recorded a healthy top-line growth in India in the last two years and doubled its headcount in half the time, will continue to increase the number of employees in the country, Thain said.

He said Merrill’s raising of $11 billion from the markets three weeks ago indicated improvement of the global credit situation.

He said Merrill had plans to set up a real estate mutual fund. “We will be launching a mutual fund, but in the future, not immediately,” he said.

In wealth management, the company will continue to target high net-worth individuals (HNIs).

“We are focused on HNIs. Our business is selected and not for the masses. HNI is a rapidly increasing market in India, Brazil, China and Russia,” he said.

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