J.P. Morgan & Co. will seek to play a major role advising privatizations in India, executives of the company's Indian investment banking joint venture said.
"Deregulation has opened up a number of opportunities, said Narendra Jhaveri, executive chairman of ICICI Securities and Finance Co., a Bombay- based joint venture between Morgan and the Indian industrial development bank, Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India.
The Indian joint venture has already lead-managed an initial public offering of $120 million for Oriental Bank of Commerce, the first nationalized bank to go public in India.
Mr. Jhaveri cautioned that the speed of additional privatizations will largely be dictated by government decisions over how fast the state-owned sector can be turned into publicly owned entities.
He added that the joint venture is currently negotiating mandates for the privatization or partial privatization of several other Indian banks, but declined to identify them.
India nationalized the country's banks in 1969 but has since authorized creation of new privately owned financial institutions.
Officials of the Morgan joint venture said another five banks are slated for privatization or partial privatization - including the country's largest, State Bank of India. The Indian government hopes to sell off at least 25% in that bank and up to 49% in others.
Morgan and the industrial development bank set up their joint venture two-and-a-half years ago in an effort to develop underwriting, advisory, securities trading, and selected financing operations.
Morgan holds a 40% stake in the joint venture. In a further move, Morgan last December acquired a 40% stake in the development bank's asset management subsidiary, a Bombay-based firm that develops, markets and manages mutual funds in India.
That company, said Charles Alexander, ICICI Securities' deputy managing director, has so far listed two closed-end funds and plans to launch a third, open-end fund this year.
Executives of the joint venture said its main business remains developing advisory work and helping Indian companies enter the capital markets.
They said the company is also actively developing fixed-income debt trading. They estimated total outstanding fixed-income issues listed on Indian exchanges at some $95 billion.