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Dabur's Burmans to enter i-banking, broking

By Mehul Shah & Niladri Bhattacharya
October 12, 2011 10:59 IST
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Dabur productsThe Burman family, promoter of Dabur India, is likely to buy less than 26 per cent stake in the Indian unit of Portuguese investment banking and securities firm Espirito Santo.

Negotiations are at an advanced stage and the deal could be announced in the next few weeks, according to three persons familiar with the matter. The deal value could not be ascertained.

"We are focused on building a leading institutional equities franchise in India. We will keep you informed of all significant announcements made by the firm in the country," said Nick Paulson-Ellis, country head, Espirito Santo Securities (India), in response to an email query on the subject.

When contacted, Mohit Burman, director at Dabur India, said, "We are interested in the investment banking space and are in discussions with a few parties."

Mohit, son of Vivek and Monica Burman, is the driving force behind the Burman family's foray into financial services such as life insurance, pensions, annuities and asset management.

The Burman family owns over 68 per cent stake in consumer products maker Dabur India.

Mohit Burman holds 74 per cent stake in his individual capacity in Aviva Life, while the rest is held by the UK's Aviva.

He also holds 10

per cent stake in Universal Sompo General Insurance Co. Mohit Burman had also acquired nearly 14 per cent stake in Punjab Tractors.

He has a stake in IPL franchise King's XI Punjab as well. Lisbon-based Espirito Santo is the investment banking arm of Banco Espirito Santo SA, Portugal's largest publicly traded bank.

The firm is a strong player in its home markets of Iberia and the UK.

Last year, Espirito Santo had bought a majority stake in UK Securities firm Execution Noble, which had set up shop in India in May 2008.

In India, Espirito Santo offers equity research and has a team of over 30 employees. It has also sought membership approvals from the National Stock Exchange and the Bombay Stock Exchange as well as certification of registration from the Securities and Exchange Board of India.

Foreign firms like Espirito Santo, Jefferies, Barclays and RBS are beefing up their investment banking and institutional broking operations in India at a time when most Indian brokerages are struggling due to shrinking cash market volumes and low commissions.

That type of market was good for firms in build mode, as it was more conducive to hiring and retaining people if one could show they had a serious long-term commitment and distinctive position, Espirito Santo's Paulson-Ellis had said in July.

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Mehul Shah & Niladri Bhattacharya in Mumbai
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