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Wednesday, Oct 02, 2002

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Raising capital from overseas markets — Nasdaq pitches in to get mandate for Nalco

Our Bureau

Mr Patrick Sutch


THE current stalemate over PSU disinvestment notwithstanding, Nasdaq has pitched in to get the Government's mandate for National Aluminium Company, the next big-ticket disinvestment candidate that might be willing to raise capital from overseas markets.

The US exchange is making a major effort to project its case, underlining what it claims are its unique advantages - liquidity, low cost, etc. - over its nearest rival, the New York Stock Exchange.

Nasdaq, according to Mr Patrick Sutch, Vice-President and MD, Asia Pacific, has also pitched for the other PSUs that the Government is expected to divest, although it has viewed Nalco in a special way, the company being a leading name in the aluminium sector.

The exchange, on a different front, has further urged Indian companies that have issued GDRs in the past to move over to Nasdaq. This, it is felt, will help these companies to gain visibility in terms of gaining renewed interest from market participants.

In particular, Nasdaq is stressing on the significance of `SuperMontage', the system it soon proposes to introduce in the US. This is being touted as the latest example of its high-quality facilities, one that brings new opportunities to investors. The US market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission, has cleared it.

The exchange, Mr Sutch said, is aiming to secure listings from around 10 companies from India in the near future.

At the moment, just three Indian outfits are listed on it. In general, opportunities for Nasdaq currently stem from such emerging areas like BPO (business process outsourcing) and call centres.

"These (new) companies are from various industries, and not technology alone," elaborated Mr Ghanshyam Dass, head of Nasdaq's representative office in India, adding that the number of potential listing candidates has gone up in recent times, thanks to the increasing trend displayed by Indian corporates to conform to the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles of the USA (US GAAP).

"Today, there are about 150 local companies following US GAAP. These include over a dozen PSU banks," he said adding, "These organisations are increasingly feeling the need to do their accounts according to the American standards."

In Kolkata on Tuesday, the Nasdaq team met a number of leading companies operating in a range of industry segments.

These included cigarette major ITC Ltd. The team also met representatives of accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

The team has again sought to knock off the `myth' that it is an exchange principally for technology companies.

Nasdaq, it is pointed out, has a mix of companies on it, including names like Starbucks Coffee.

In India, incidentally, it has recently interacted with Barista, the emerging coffee player in the country.

Indigo Markets up for sale

INDIGO Markets, the trading system that was a result of a 50:50 joint venture between Nasdaq and SSI Ltd (the Chennai-based IT company) was up for sale, Mr Sutch observed.

The system, originally aimed at Nasdaq Japan, will be offloaded for a suitable price, and the exchange is looking for the right purchasers.

"We wish to find a buyer from among a number of stock exchanges that can make use of it," he said, adding the system was entirely developed in-house.

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