MF business to get crowded; 23 new players seek SEBI nod

Almost 23 companies are waiting for an approval from SEBI to enter the MF space which is already overcrowded with 37 players managing assets over Rs7 lakh crore

As many as 23 companies are awaiting an approval from the market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to enter the mutual fund (MF) space, which is already overcrowded with 37 players managing assets over Rs7 lakh crore, reports PTI.

Companies have filed for regulatory approvals, which are being processed by SEBI, sources said.

Some of the Indian companies whose applications are with the market regulator include Indiabulls Ltd, Future Finance Ltd, SREI Infrastructure Finance Ltd and ASK Investment Holdings Pvt Ltd.

Besides these entities, brokerage firms like India Infoline, Prime Securities Ltd, Karvy Stock Broking Ltd and Jaypee Capital Services Ltd have also sought licences from SEBI for asset management.

Two state-run banks—Union Bank of India and IDBI Bank—are also planning to venture into the asset management space and have approached the regulatory authority.

While IDBI Bank had filed an application for a licence in June last year, Union Bank had submitted its papers in February 2009.

Meanwhile, IDBI Bank and the country's third largest private sector lender Axis Bank have already got the regulator's approval to start an asset management business.

Union Bank has set up an asset management firm with KBC Group of Belgium. The joint venture, in which the state-run lender owns 51% stake, expects to start operations during the current fiscal.


After exploration, Videocon Group now plans oil extraction

The group plans to foray into the oil extraction business from its rigs. It already has a strong presence in the oil exploration business with oil blocks across various countries

India’s consumer electronics giant and oil & gas exploration entity Videocon is planning to enter the oil extraction business and has received some proposals from foreign players.

“We are getting some foreign proposals on the extraction side for our oil rigs,” said SM Hegde, director, Videocon Group.

The group has a strong presence in the oil exploration business, both domestic and overseas. It is currently involved in exploration activities in various oil blocks. It has oil blocks in Australia, Brazil, Mozambique and Turkey.

Commenting on its oil blocks in Brazil and Mozambique, Mr Hegde said, “For the investments that we have made in Brazil and Mozambique, we are getting a very good feedback, making our investments more viable. Exploration at the Australian oil blocks is also going on, but there is not much indication as to what kind of reserves can be expected.”

The company also plans to start extraction activities in one of its Brazilian blocks by FY12. “For Brazil we are expecting extraction to start for one of the oil blocks, the Wahoo block, by next year end or by the first quarter of FY12,” he said.

Mr Hegde also highlighted that in the coming years, the oil & gas segment would be one of the main focus areas for the group. “Power, telecom and oil & gas will be the main focus of the group now,” he added.

Meanwhile, US-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp, the operator with about 43% paying interest in the Windjammer exploration well in the Rovuma Basin off Mozambique, said that it has reached an intermediate casing point and encountered more than 480 net feet of natural gas pay in high-quality reservoir sands, with a gross column of more than 1,200 feet. To date, this well has tested one of the seven identified play types in Anadarko’s operated acreage off Mozambique. Videocon Mozambique Rovuma 1 Ltd and BPRL Ventures Mozambique BV, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd, hold an 11.75% stake each in the well.


IMF to begin open market sale of 191.3 tonnes of gold

Last year, the IMF had decided to sell 403.3 tonnes of gold to raise money to fund poverty alleviation projects in Third World countries. The total amount remaining to be sold in this phase is 191.3 tonnes

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday said that it will shortly begin selling gold in the open market under its gold sales programme, which was launched last year to raise more money for lending, reports PTI.

In September last year, the IMF had decided to sell 403.3 tonnes of gold to raise money to fund poverty-alleviation projects in Third World countries. The total amount remaining to be sold in this phase is 191.3 tonnes.

Until now, the IMF has sold 212 tonnes of gold, but the sale was limited to central banks. The Reserve Bank of India had purchased 200 tonnes of gold last year while Sri Lanka and Mauritius were the other purchasers.

The IMF said that the 'on-market' sales will be conducted in a phased manner over time to prevent any disruptions in the gold market.

However, the IMF said that the initiation of the on-market sales does not preclude further off-market gold sales directly to interested central banks or other official holders.

Meanwhile, in an interview to IMF Survey Magazine, IMF finance director Andrew Tweedie said that the IMF is still open to off-market sales.

"All that has happened now is that we are moving to also start on-market sales. But if central banks or other official institutions are still interested in purchasing gold directly from the IMF, and if we still have gold available, we would stand ready to conduct off-market sales," he said.

The average price for the three sales— to India, Sri Lanka and Mauritius, Mr Tweedie said, was a little over $1,050 per ounce. The sales have generated total proceeds equivalent to $7.20 billion and profits of around $4.50 billion over the book value of this gold in the IMF's accounts, he said.

"The profits will be used to create an income-generating endowment as part of the new income model that no longer relies on lending income to finance the IMF's diverse activities, and will also contribute to boosting the Fund's capacity to provide concessional loans to low-income countries," he said.

The Reserve Bank of India purchased 200 tonnes of gold, while Sri Lanka bought 10 tonnes and Mauritius bought 2 tonnes from the IMF last year.

"Because of the relatively large amount involved, it was done over a period of two weeks through a series of forward transactions. Settlement took place at the end of the period. The reason for proceeding that way was to protect both the Reserve Bank of India and the IMF from large unexpected price fluctuations that could occur on any individual day," Mt Tweedie said.


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