By T.Munroe and M.C. Rangan
MUMBAI: Mihir Doshi, the veteran banker overseeing the relaunch of Credit Suisse’s brokerage business in India, does not plan a headlong rush into a market where costs are rising and fees are under pressure.
“It takes time,” the 45-year-old Doshi said in an interview at the bank’s new country headquarters in an unfinished seafront office block.
“The first quarter, first half, is putting the building blocks in place and to ensure that we have the right team in place,” said Doshi, who left Morgan Stanley’s Indian joint venture in early 2006 after 22 years with the Wall Street firm to join Credit Suisse as country head for India.
Credit Suisse expects to reopen its Indian brokerage business later this month after the local stock market regulator suspended the bank’s India unit from broking activities in 2001 for alleged violation of rules on price manipulation.
It reenters a market that has become fiercely competitive on the back of a nearly four-year bull run, 9% economic growth, and a robust market for mergers and capital raising.
“The goodwill is there, the firm is well-known,” said Doshi, who is known as Mickey.
“It helps our cause that Tata-Corus happened,” he added, referring to Credit Suisse’s role in advising Anglo-Dutch firm Corus Group in its $12 billion sale to India’s Tata Steel Ltd. .
“The biggest concern is competition,” he said.
Wall Street rivals Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers are also ramping up operations in the country. All three face established players such as DSP Merrill Lynch and Citigroup in a market where already-low fees are narrowing and demand for talent is driving up staffing costs.
“The cut-throat fee environment gets offset by a larger pool,” said Doshi, the commanding sea view behind his desk slightly obscured by a construction crane.
“My biggest issue is to make sure I hire people who are good team players,” said Doshi, who described his team as small but growing and declined to give specifics.
India is the biggest market in Asia outside Japan this year thus far for merger and acquisition activity, and ranks third in overall investment banking revenue, according to Dealogic.
India has captured the attention of bankers and investors globally with recent deals such as the Tata-Corus tie-up and Vodafone Group Ltd.’s $11.1 billion deal for control of Hutchison Essar, India’s No. 4 cellular carrier.
In 2006, overall Indian investment banking fees rose 23% to $413 million, according to Dealogic.
“The opportunity exists,” said Doshi. “It’s up to us to try and ensure we take some of that opportunity.”