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Friday, Oct 11, 2002

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`Nasdaq willing to help companies in India'

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"NASDAQ is around, Nasdaq is well and is willing to help companies in India," assured the Nasdaq chief, Mr Patrick Sutch, who was here today addressing a Venture Capital Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

And proof of its long-term commitment to the region was that Nasdaq has not closed its office in India, he pointed out. The Bangalore office is the only fully representative office in South-East Asia, though the opening was probably "wrongly timed", he said.

Also, the exchange has recently invested $ 110 million in technology for a new platform - Super Montage, which will start next Monday onwards. The platform will allow investors to see more orders, get five quotes instead of the best and see more of buy and sell orders. This is expected to help bring investor confidence back into the market. Modelled on the forex market, Nasdaq dreams of becoming an exchange that allows trading 24 hours a day, five days a week, Mr Sutch said.

Nasdaq has not been having a great run, with the number of companies registering on the exchange coming drastically down from 2000. "Then we had four companies per day and today we would be lucky if we have four a month," Mr Sutch said.

"India is the most important market in South-East Asia," he told newspersons. Nasdaq had had the honour of listing garage companies, including Microsoft, which had grown into international giants. "We are looking to India to unearth the next generation of such companies," Mr Sutch said.

The exchange is also "in talks" with a number of Indian companies for listing. It was equally open to companies in non-technology areas as long as they showed high growth potential, and innovation. Some of Nasdaq listed companies include Starbucks, the coffee chain, a low-cost airline and Cosco, a cash and carry outlet.

Mr P. Krishnamurthy, Chairman of CII's Venture Capital Committee, said that venture capitalists (VCs) too had to look beyond technology. He spoke of alternative exit modes such as M&As in a market where the IPO route is practically closed. None of the three recent VC exits in India were through IPOs, he said. Chrysalis Capital, for instance had offloaded its stake in Spectramind by selling to Wipro.

He said that VCs had a role to play in the GDP growth. Though the times were challenging, there was opportunity for VC activity in corporate restructuring, turnaround initiatives, expansion and M&As, he said. VCs could invest in early stage, late stage, and even post IPO companies.

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