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India’s review of depositary receipts could open the door to increased foreign investment, says BNY Mellon

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A new report issued by India’s Ministry of Finance recommends allowing over-the-counter (OTC) non-capital-raising American depositary receipt (ADR) programmes on any kind of securities, not only equity.

Neil Atkinson, Asia-Pacific head of depositary receipts at BNY Mellon, believes this is positive news both for India and those investing in Indian securities.
“The MS Sahoo Committee’s ground-breaking recommendations are terrific news for India and the global investment community,” says Atkinson. “The introduction of the new scheme for DRs will provide global investors with convenient access to Indian companies, who in turn can attract foreign investment through this flexible and cost-efficient securities product. In permitting OTC non-capital-raising DRs, India would join more than 60 countries worldwide whose companies have established non-capital raising DR programs for secondary market investors.
“The MS Sahoo report is a remarkable study which acknowledges current regulatory constraints that inhibit foreign investment in India. There is significant international demand for Indian equity and greater access to DRs may meet some of the demand not satisfied through routes previously available. Conversations with global investors indicate they warmly welcome this news and look forward to exploring greater investment in India in the near future.  
“While DRs remain a valuable source of capital-raising from overseas investors, today they are much more than that. DRs play an essential role in cross-border trading and are a preferred instrument for companies listing their shares on global markets and for investors seeking international portfolio diversification. Not only do they broaden and diversify the range of investors who participate in capital markets, but adding a DR programme can also provide greater visibility for issuers.
“For investors, DRs are an attractive route to entry in a market because they offer a combination of convenience, simplicity and flexibility when compared to direct investment in a foreign market. In our research report from March 2013, ‘India: Easing Conditions for Investors’, we found nearly half of all global funds that invest in India using DRs chose not to invest directly through local shares. Many indicated a preference for the familiarity and convenience of DRs and were unable or unwilling to invest directly or use derivatives.
“While it could be argued that the importance of DRs has subsided since India’s onshore market has developed, DRs remain an attractive route for foreign investment into India. At BNY Mellon, we commend these ground-breaking developments which should promote greater integration of the Indian financial system with international capital markets.”
Since the 1920s, investors, companies, and traders have used DRs to meet their needs. According to BNY Mellon data as of 31 December 2013, there are more than 3,750 DR programmes available to investors, representing issuers from 75 countries. More than 4,400 institutions invest over USD800 billion in DRs globally.

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