Aberdeen Finds an Easier Place to Make Money and It's Not China

A man looks up at an electronic ticker board that indicates stock figures at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in Mumbai, India. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Asia’s most expensive stock market is getting more love.

While China remains a “huge opportunity,” it is India that takes the crown of the favorite emerging market for Standard Life Aberdeen Ltd., which held 670 billion pounds ($902 billion) in group assets at the end of June.

“It is easier to make money there than say, China,” Martin Gilbert, co-chief executive officer, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

Foreigners have bought $3.1 billion of local shares this month, the highest since March, as a slew of reforms including implementing a nationwide sales tax and a $32 billion funding plan for state-run lenders prompted Moody’s Investors Service to boost the nation’s rating to the highest since 1988. The upgrade came after the World Bank said it’s getting easier to do business in India, with Asia’s third-largest economy jumping 30 places to rank 100th in the latest ranking released in October.

India is home to well-run and good-quality companies like Hindustan Unilever Ltd. and Housing Development Finance Corp., Gilbert said, and sovereign bond yields of 7 percent offer “really good value.”

While the growth in wealth in China “is enormous” and the nation is opening up, foreign-exchange controls are an issue, he said.

“It is difficult to attract money to invest from outside China as of now and that probably will be the holy grail for asset managers.”

Chinese stocks have fared poorly in November, with the Shanghai Composite Index falling 2.2 percent in its worst month this year, amid concern about a bond rout and government efforts to cool gains in some of the top performers.

— With assistance by Sarah Jones

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