Nilanjan Dey

Kolkata, July 21

T. Rowe Price, one of the world's leading fund houses, is weighing the possibility of entering the Indian market.

It is known to have already initiated exploratory moves, including meetings with key people associated with the local mutual fund industry, in this regard.

T. Rowe Price, which recently concluded a visit to India, is interested in setting up an asset management venture in the country, those aware of the development indicated.

"They wanted an insight into the local market," a highly-placed source who has interacted with the fund house said, while referring to it as "the most obvious way in which a foreign company would try to set up a venture in a new country."

In terms of assets under management - $235 billion as on March 31, 2005 - the Baltimore-headquartered T. Rowe Price group is a large player. Besides individuals, it caters to corporate clients, public retirement plans and foundations.

A number of overseas fund houses currently operate locally, some as joint ventures with prominent Indian partners. These include Prudential, Franklin Templeton, Principal and Merrill Lynch.

Foreign banks such as HSBC, ABN AMRO and Deutsche Bank have also set up asset management arms. Fidelity is the latest to arrive.

Those who have walked out include Zurich, SUN F&C and Alliance; the latter has recently received an NOC from SEBI to transfer its schemes to Birla MF.

The latest development, the source told Business Line, places T. Rowe Price in the league of foreign houses that are known to have looked at the Indian asset management space in recent times. These include the likes of UBS and AIG.

For the average participant in the Indian market, T. Rowe Price may well be a fairly unknown name, it is felt. The fund house, as its Web site mentions, was founded in 1937 by Mr Thomas Rowe Price, Jr.

It now offers separately managed investment portfolios for institutions, a variety of mutual funds for individual investors and corporate retirement programs. It also provides a number of investment planning tools.

The group includes T. Rowe Price International, T. Rowe Price Global Investment Services, T. Rowe Price Global Asset Management and T. Rowe Price Stable Asset Management.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 22, 2005)
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