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Investors hit the road for status check on Bharat

Last updated on: February 3, 2012 08:22 IST

Investors hit the road for status check on Bharat

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N Sundaresha Subramanian in Mumbai

To clear the clutter caused by contrary signals given by different government agencies and the rosy pictures painted by companies, a group of investors literally hit the road to gauge for themselves the true state of the economy and its impact on the market.

Representatives from at least 15 investors, including foreign institutional investors (FIIs) based in Singapore, mutual funds and insurance companies embarked on a road trip, meeting automobile dealers, milkmen, farm labourers and real estate agents.

Over the first three days, these investors covered the stretch between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, stopping along the way to meet sons of the soil. The group then flew to Bihar and spent two days in Patna and Sonepur.

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"Investors were tired of listening to the same old stories and rosy pictures painted by companies. Instead of the rigmarole of meeting companies at five-star hotels and offices, we took them in a bus and made them see for themselves the demand-supply scenario, do channel checks and meet the farmers," said Gautam Trivedi, managing director, Religare Capital Markets.

The trip threw up some interesting inferences. For example, the price of milk is expected to rise to Rs 100/litre. "The biggest reason for this is the huge labour shortage. This is not only in the case of Gujarat but also in a state as impoverished as Bihar, which also faces shortage of labour," an investor said.

The shortage is described as a result of the MGNREGS, the national rural jobs scheme, under which the government provides guaranteed employment for 100 days a year. People prefer this, involving working close to their homes.

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The decline in Bihar's crime graph has resulted in a rise in purchase of gold. Investors could see that people had started wearing gold, which they were once scared of even keeping in lockers.

There is also a huge demand for branded consumer products in Bihar, which has led to an increase in spurious products in the area. The investors found half of branded fast moving consumer goods sold weren't authentic.

Religare, which put together this trip, is encouraged by the response and plans to make it a regular affair.

"The investors were extremely happy," said Trivedi. "We are planning the next tour, which will cover Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The real India lies out of the top six cities. The biggest incremental growth is coming out of tier-II and tier-III towns. Investors are keen to see it for themselves."

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The second trip will cover cities such as Vijayawada, Guntur and Kanpur. Trivedi declined to share the names of the participants, citing client confidentiality.

"Road trips are good," said Jayesh Gandhi, fund manager, Morgan Stanley Asset Management. "You can meet people and see things for yourself. It is important because everybody has his own interpretation of things."

Home-grown institutional brokers have been thinking out of the box to add value to their customers amidst heavy competition.

Some months earlier, Nirmal Bang, another institutional brokerage, had facilitated a conference call through which institutional investors in Maruti Suzuki directly reached out to worker union heads.




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