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India misses Nasdaq bus; China gets dedicated country index

April 06, 2007 12:31 IST

India has lost out to China in the arena of one of the world's most respected stock exchange, Nasdaq, which has decided to launch a dedicated index of Chinese companies listed in the US.

The development comes amid the growing global appetite of India Inc to expand its overseas footprint with a number of cross-border acquisitions, joint ventures and setting up of foreign business units.

However, the number of Indian companies listed on the US stock exchanges has remained somewhat stagnant over the past few months, despite over 100 firms estimated to be mulling a listing either on the Nasdaq or NYSE.

Nasdaq Stock Market's planned China index would initially comprise of 30 Chinese companies listed on any US exchange.

The major impediment for India missing out to China for a dedicated country index is the lesser number of companies listed in the US as an index needs at least 30 companies, the market observers said.

Out of a total of around 120 Indian companies listed overseas, there are just seven Indian companies listed on Nasdaq with a market cap of around $32 billion -- including -- Infosys, Sify and Rediff, while there are ten Indian firms listed on another US exchange, NYSE.

Nasdaq CEO Robert Greifeld was in China earlier this week to persuade more Chinese companies to list on Nasdaq.

Incidentally, Greifeld had also visited India last year as part of the exchange's efforts to attract more Indian companies to list on Nasdaq

However, in the last few months no new Indian company has listed on the Nasdaq, while as many as six Chinese companies were listed on Nasdaq in the first three months of 2007.

Currently, there are 38 companies from China listed on Nasdaq with a market value of about $30 billion.

Besides, there are 31 Chinese companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange with a combined market cap of a huge over $800 billion.

Nasdaq president and CEO had told PTI in August last year: "We are currently in talks with several Indian companies drawn from various sectors and are confident that we will see more Indian companies listing on Nasdaq in the future."

During his visit, Greifeld expressed confidence in the future growth of Chinese companies, while saying that Nasdaq would be the ultimate winner for having embraced the "future".

The China index, which would include the world's largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers China Mobile, and Chinese search engine giant, follows the introduction of an Israel benchmark index by Nasdaq in November last year.

The index, planned to be rolled out in the current quarter, would include companies with headquarters in China or Hong Kong with a minimum worldwide market value of $200 million, a minimum average daily US trading volume of 100,000 shares, and a minimum price of $3 per share.

While most of the Indian companies fulfil the criteria for a dedicated country index, the only impediment is the insufficient number of firms listed in the US for creation of an index, market observers believe.

However, they are optimistic about an India index in the near future, as there had been a sharp surge in the number of Indian companies vying to list their shares on foreign exchanges, particularly in the US, after the successful listing of BPO major WNS on the NYSE and continuing expansion by domestic companies into the overseas markets.

Over 100 Indian companies are posting earnings as per the US GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) guidelines and all of them are mulling to list on the US stock exchanges, investment-banking sources said.

With the Indian companies continuing to expand their footprints on the US shores and the overseas revenues playing a larger role in their balance sheets, particularly in the IT sector, the companies are increasingly getting attracted to the brand value addition and exposure a US listing provides, they said.

This emerging trend has been driving both the NYSE and Nasdaq to go an extra mile to woo Indian companies for getting listed in the US, promising fair and transparent exchange markets. Both the exchanges are in talks with several Indian companies for a US listing.

"India poses an exciting opportunity among the various countries in the world today. The country's GDP is firmly on an 8 per cent plus growth path and it offers a huge

opportunity for business," Greifeld had said last year.

"In many ways Indian companies are still experimenting with the US option and as they seek to go global, we could expect many more Indian listings in the US and on Nasdaq," Greifeld had said.

Nasdaq believes that the US capital markets are the most robust in the world and in time more Indian companies will gravitate toward the investor base and the visibility that the US markets provide, Greifeld said.

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