Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Indian Sovereign Wealth Fund: Now a Possibility

Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) have become the flavour of the day. Not only are the SWFs of various countries investing billions of dollars in companies around the world, they are generating a significant amount of skepticism from regulators in host countries urging greater transparency.
As far as India is concerned, initial indications from the Reserve Bank of India have implied reluctance on the part of the Indian Government to set up its own SWF. Earlier posts on this blog (Will We Witness an Indian Sovereign Wealth Fund? and The Case for an Indian SWF) had discussed the pros and cons of an Indian SWF and had argued for the establishment of one.

The Economic Times reports that the Government is seriously looking at the option of an Indian SWF:

“The government is considering a sovereign investment fund with an initial corpus of $5 billion to acquire companies abroad. The investment fund may also be used to bolster the country’s energy security by acquiring coal mines and oil and gas blocks abroad.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh has issued a directive to the finance ministry in this regard, and an announcement is likely in the Budget, an official said.

According to officials, one of the options available to the government is to create a special purpose vehicle (SPV), which will borrow funds from RBI in the form of long-term securities in foreign currency and lend the same to Indian companies at lower rates. Thus, RBI and the government will be able to earn more on forex reserves, which currently fetch average returns of 3.5-4%.”
See also, the report in VC Circle.

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