Morgan Stanley plans India wealth biz entry

Morgan Stanley plans India wealth biz entry

Singapore: Morgan Stanley plans to launch private wealth management services in India in 2008—its first onshore wealth business in Asia—and expects to hire around 100 private bankers, an executive of the investment bank said on Monday.

“That will be our first buildout on an onshore private wealth business in Asia," said Leslie Menkes, a Singapore-based managing director for the Wall Street bank’s private wealth management arm, while speaking at the Reuters Wealth Management Summit.

Morgan Stanley hopes to manage around $1 billion (Rs3,950 crore) in private banking assets in India at the end of three years, Menkes said. The bank would be competing against Citigroup Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. as the three US banks aggressively try to tap India’s fast growing private banking market. India had 100,000 millionaires in 2006— up 21% from a year earlier, according to a Merrill Lynch/Capgemini report.

Merrill officials had said in March, that the bank planned to expand to cover at least 10 Indian cities in the next three years—up from five cities.

A senior Citigroup executive had told Reuters in February that the bank planned to double the number of bankers dealing with wealthy non-resident and resident Indians from about 100 currently, by the end of 2008.

Citi’s Smith Barney broking unit, which handles clients with assets of at least $1 million, plans to grow from one office now to a presence in 12 Indian cities.

Menkes said Morgan Stanley’s focus in India would be mainly on the rupee-based business targeting wealthy clients, who have $5 million in assets, or 40% of India’s 100,000 millionaires. Internationally, the bank targets clients, who have $25 million or more in assets.

“We will open for business in the middle of next year. We will certainly open in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata and probably in Bangalore," he said, adding by the end of 2010, the bank wants to be in eight locations in India. Menkes said the bank already has hired four senior executives from Merrill Lynch to set up the private banking business. REUTERS