New Delhi: Skyrocketing stock markets and a surging rupee are creating publicly traded behemoths in India.
These new giants have swiftly overtaken some long-established Western competitors, in terms of market value. Their lightning-fast growth may usher in a new round of foreign partnerships, overseas takeovers and competition for resources and talent.
Fuelled in part by overseas investors seeking refuge from America's subprime mortgage mess, share prices in India's markets have outpaced other Asian markets in recent weeks. The Bombay Stock Exchange's Sensex index set records on 10 of the last 11 days, before closing slightly lower on Thursday at 17,777.14 points.
The Sensex is up 14.6% since 17 September. That follows months of somewhat slower gains—the index is up 28.9% so far this year, according to Bloomberg, and up 102% (or more than double) over the past 24 months.
Building fortunes: The DLF Infinity complex, part of DLF Cybercity in Gurgaon. DLF Ltd, which had a $2.3 billion IPO in July, now has a market capitalization of more than $37 billion.
“All of a sudden, India has these world-beating serious-market-cap companies across multiple sectors," said L. Brooks Entwistle, chief executive of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in India. The global ambitions of the companies “continue to grow."
Real estate company DLF Ltd, for example, which had a $2.3 billion (Rs9,085 crore) initial public offering (IPO) in July, now has a market capitalization of more than $37 billion—making it roughly the size of Marriott International Inc. and Hilton Hotels Corp. combined. On Thursday, the company said it would consider overseas acquisitions and offshore fund-raising at its next board meeting.
Reliance Industries Ltd, the largest publicly traded company in India, reached a market cap of more than $85 billion this week, up from $6.5 billion in January 2003.
Reliance, an oil, chemical and manufacturing company, is now about double the size of Dow Chemical Co.
A strong rupee and weak dollar are also helping Indian companies look large compared with their overseas counterparts—but their bulk is still predominantly a result of investor faith in India's long-term growth.
A large increase in market capitalization does not necessarily mean the companies will go shopping for deals. Many Indian companies trade only on local exchanges, which means that the stock is not a viable currency to buy a foreign company. Even if they do plan to raise money overseas, few have huge trophy deals on their minds, bankers say.©2007/THE NEW YORK TIMES