Indian Stock Exchange CEO Sees Market Reforms Boosting Equities

National Stock Exchange of India CEO Ravi Narain
Ravi Narain, managing director and chief executive officer of the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd. Photographer: Adeel Halim/Bloomberg

India’s stock market will benefit from government reforms to attract capital and boost economic growth, said Ravi Narain, chief executive officer of the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd.

India’s equity market is “very much driven by government reforms and what the growth story is,” Narain said yesterday at a conference in New York. Regulators are working to “facilitate foreign investor participation” and “we’ll see the impact of that,” he said.

The BSE India Sensitive Index of stocks has gained 5 percent over the past month, extending its rally this year to 21 percent, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opened the retail and aviation industries to foreign investors and cut fuel subsidies to reduce government’s deficit. Overseas investors have bought a net $14 billion in Indian equities as of Sept. 21, after withdrawing $512 million last year, according to the nation’s market regulator.

Shares on the benchmark index traded at about 15 times estimated earnings, below the average of 16 over the past five years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. This compares with an average multiple of 11 for emerging-market stocks.

The Bank of New York Mellon India ADR Index lost 0.1 percent to 1,039.14 in New York yesterday, falling for the first time in three days.

Indian stocks’ valuations are attractive because the shares in the benchmark are more diversified than their peers in developing countries, according to Kathryn Koch, a senior strategist at Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

‘No Better Investment’

“Longer term, I don’t think there’re any better investment opportunities out there than India,” Koch said at the conference.

India has the greatest growth potential among the so-called BRIC countries, which include Brazil, Russia, India and China, because it has the most favorable demographics and a young working population, she said.

India’s gross domestic product rose 5.5 percent in the three months through June from a year earlier, rebounding from a three-year low of 5.3 percent during the previous period. That compared with second-quarter growth rates of 0.49 percent in Brazil, 4 percent in Russia and 7.6 percent in China.

The Sensex Index fell the most in three weeks on Sept. 20 after Singh’s largest ally said it was exiting the coalition over the announced reforms. Trinamool Congress ministers will be pulled from the federal cabinet on Sept. 21, party leader Mamata Banerjee said on Sept. 18.

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