Axis Bank, Indiabulls to start operations in London

Indo Asian News Service

Mumbai, Nov 30 (IANS) Two Indian financial services companies have announced setting up operations in London even as visiting Mayor of London Boris Johnson urged India to "cut red tape to give state-owned and private companies access to the world's capital markets", here Friday.

The private sector 18-year-old Axis Bank will open its first office outside Asia in London, while Indiabulls Financial Services will provide mortgages for properties in India to non-resident Indians and persons of Indian origin in the UK.

Welcoming the developments, Johnson urged India "to cut red tape that severely restricts both its private and state-owned companies from listing on overseas stock exchanges like London".

"In the case of state-owned companies, it makes them more dependent on state resources which could be directed into other government programmes like regeneration and infrastructure developments in India.

"If more companies list on the London Stock Exchange, the cost of capital in the market reduces, helping to generate growth in both countries' economies," Johnson pointed out.

He felt "the time is ripe for India to deregulate and free up its successful public and private sector companies" to enable them benefit from London's financial capacity and expertise, and reduce burdens on the Indian tax-payer.

Axis Bank and Indiabulls Financial Services follow other major Indian banks like State Bank of India, Union Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Syndicate Bank, Punjab National Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra and IL&FS, which have joined the over 300 international banks operating in London.

As many as 73 Indian companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange, the highest on any other exchange outside India, Johnson said.

These companies have raised almost $3 billion in 2010-11, compared with just $53 million on the NASDAQ and NYSE combined during the same period.

Interacting with top officials of Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) here, Johnson launched its new 100 Low Carbon Index.

The BSE Carbonex, one of the first among the emerging economies, would help accelerate corporate reporting on emissions and climate strategies as part of India's commitment to low carbon growth.

London's financial sector employs around 335,000 workers and contributes 22 percent of the UK's gross domestic product.