India replaces France as world’s 6th biggest economy

India’s GDP amounted to $2.597 trillion at the end of last year, against $2.582 trillion for France

India has become the world’s sixth-biggest economy, pushing France into seventh place, according to updated World Bank figures for 2017. India’s gross domestic product (GDP) amounted to $2.597 trillion at the end of last year, against $2.582 trillion for France. India’s economy rebounded strongly from July 2017, after several quarters of slowdown blamed on economic policies pursued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

India, with around 1.34 billion inhabitants, is poised to become the world’s most populous nation, whereas the French population stands at 67 million. This means that India’s per capita GDP continues to amount to just a fraction of that of France which is still roughly 20 times higher, according to World Bank figures.

Manufacturing and consumer spending were the main drivers of the Indian economy last year, after a slowdown blamed on the demonetisation of large banknotes that Modi imposed at the end of 2016, as well as a chaotic implementation of a new harmonised goods and service tax regime.

India has doubled its GDP within a decade and is expected to power ahead as a key economic engine in Asia, even as China slows down.

According to the International Monetary Fund, India is projected to generate growth of 7.4% this year and 7.8% in 2019, boosted by household spending and a tax reform. This compares to the world’s expected average growth of 3.9%.

The London-based Centre for Economics and Business Research, a consultancy, said at the end of last year that India would overtake both Britain and France this year in terms of GDP, and had a good chance to become the world’s third-biggest economy by 2032.

At the end of 2017, Britain was still the world’s fifth-biggest economy with a GDP of $2.622 trillion. The US is the world’s top economy, followed by China, Japan and Germany.


Qatar looks to Asia for investment in its new post-blockade era

– Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, the CEO of the Qatar Financial Center, a business and financial center located in Doha, told CNBC that the country has moved to attract foreign investment by making it easier to get business visas and buy real estate.
– Qatar is looking for new partners, new alliances, so we are moving on, he said.

Qatar is looking to Asia for foreign investment in a “new era” for the country, following the blockade by a number of major Arab nations in June last year.

Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, the CEO of the Qatar Financial Center, a business and financial center located in Doha, told CNBC Friday that the country has moved to attract foreign investment by making it easier to get business visas and buy real estate.

“Qatar is looking for new partners, new alliances, so we are moving on,” he said.

“Our presence in Hong Kong speaks a lot. We’re going to be doing a lot of more tours in Asia, Thailand, Vietnam, within the next two months,” he added.

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt imposed trade and travel bans on Qatar in 2017, blaming the country for supporting terrorism.

The Qatar Financial Center, which aims to foster investment in Qatar, has been explaining to foreign investors that, after the deterioration of relations between Qatar and other Arabic countries, the country has been putting forward a slew of reforms to adapt to a “new reality.”

“The appetite is good, I think we have to do a lot more of awareness as to what the blockade means. What we are trying to pitch in terms of the blockade is that this is a new era for Qatar,” Al-Jaida said.

Source: CNBC

PE fund multiples to raise $1 billion for resurgent India

India-focused funds together raised about $3.1 billion in 2017, according to Preqin data.

Multiples Alternate Asset Management, the private equity fund founded by former ICICI Venture CEO Renuka Ramnath, is set to raise as much as $1billion in what could be one of the largest capital-raising plans by a domestic asset manager.

The programme, which is expected to start in February, will target pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and university endowments in North America, Europe, the Middle East and South East Asia, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The proposed fund will be equivalent to almost one-third of the capital raised by 29 India-focused private equity and venture capital funds in 2017.

The fund is being launched with appetite for long-term capital after a relative lull of almost a decade. Big-ticket asset owners such as pension and sovereign funds have started putting in money since last year, especially after Moody’s Investors Service upgraded India’s sovereign rating outlook, which lifted sentiment towards one of the fastest-growing economies.

Multiples raised its first fund of $400 million in 2011 and its second fund of $750 million in 2016. It has delivered an average internal rate of return (IRR) of 30% to investors, sources said.

The average net IRR of India-focused funds was 14% over the past 10 years, according to London-based data tracker Preqin, compared with the median net IRR of 11.9% across all Asia-based private equity funds of all vintages.

“Yes, we have already started discussions with our existing limited partners and are looking to start marketing roadshows from Febru-ary. We expect the first close by mid of this year and a final close by December,” said one of the two people.

Founded in 2009 by Ramnath, former managing director and CEO of ICICI Venture, the private equity arm of the country’s biggest private lender, ICICI Bank, Multiples manages close to $1billion assets, its website showed. It counts Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and other North American pension money managers and university endowments as its largest limited partners or investors.

These investors have already committed to the fresh fundraising. Some of the investments by Multiples include Arvind, Cholamandalam Investment & Finance, Indian Energy Exchange and RBL. Last January, the firm sold its 14% stake in India’s largest movie hall chain PVR to rival private equity fund Warburg Pincus for Rs 820 crore, making a return on more than three times on its four-year-old investment, in constant currency terms.

India-focused funds together raised about $3.1 billion in 2017, according to Preqin data. This is more than double the money raised by 18 asset managers in 2016. Last year, former Temasek India head Manish Kejriwal’s Kedaara Capital raised about $750 million for its second fund, while IDFC Alternatives raised $350 million.

PE fundraising slowed soon after the Lehman crisis with asset managers struggling to get out of their investments as valuations were rearranged, said the head of a large US fund in India. “The Moody’s upgrade and related strength seen in the economy and continued strong sentiment are expected to keep the India story intact,” he added.

Source:Economic Times


Medical tourism is forex top spinner

Accounts for 70% of health services exports, finds survey

Medical tourism has been the largest contributor to India’s total health services exports, accounting for 70 per cent of the total revenues of $890 million earned in 2015-16, according to the first comprehensive government survey on the sector.

Asian countries, led by Bangladesh, Iraq, Pakistan and the Maldives, accounted for more than 60 per cent of the foreign exchange earnings of health services.

India’s major trade partners, the US and the EU, accounted for 14 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively, according to the survey compiled by the Directorate-General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics under the Commerce Department.

■ 60% of the earnings come from Bangladesh, Iraq, Pakistan and the Maldives

■ 14% from the US

■ 11% from the EU

“The personalised services and care that patients in India get is much cheaper than the services offered in developed countries and even in countries in the ASEAN, Middle East and the CIS states,” Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia noted in her comments.

“This, together with the support of the government in promoting India as a healthcare hub, research in healthcare and advances in information and communication technology have enhanced India’s export of health services,” Teaotia added.

Contract research was second-highest forex earner among health services, accounting for 27 per cent of export revenue. Clinical trials and telemedicine accounted for about 3 per cent of export earnings.

Orthopaedics, oncology, neurology and cardiology are the top four export revenue earners; strikingly, Ayurveda is a close fifth, much above other branches including urology, haematology, general medicine and nephrology.

The report is part of the Commerce Department’s efforts to develop a framework to collect statistics on services trade. The DGCI&S launched its pan-India survey on international trade in services in June 2016.

Along with information on medical and health value travel, the survey also captured information on telemedicine, clinical trials, contract research, distance health education and temporary overseas movement of personnel from the surveyed units.

The survey is likely to be undertaken on an annual basis by DGCI&S.


Philippines fastest-growing economy in developing Asia

The Philippine economy grew at its fastest pace in three years last quarter, underscoring the nation’s resilience to global risks as investment surged and consumers spent more.

Gross domestic product increased 7.1% from a year earlier, the Philippine Statistics Authority said in Manila on Thursday. The median estimate of 15 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was 6.7%.

Compared with the previous quarter, GDP rose 1.2%, in line with economists’ estimates

Undeterred by risks such as Donald Trump’s protectionist ambitions and President Rodrigo Duterte’s rants against the US, the Philippine economy is set to expand more than 6% until 2018 to rank among the fastest-growing in the world, accordng to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Last quarter’s growth exceeded China’s 6.7% and Vietnam’s 6.4% in the same period. India, which posted growth of 7.1% in the second quarter, is yet to publish GDP data for the three months through September.

Gifted with a young population and backed by $50 billion of revenue from remittances and outsourcing, the Philippines is getting an additional boost from Mr Duterte’s $160-billion infrastructure plan aimed at creating jobs. Projects include at least $1 billion of contracts to build an airport and a railway to transform a former US military base into a commercial hub.

Philippine stocks rose a second day, climbing as much as 2.2%. They were up 1.1% as of 1101am in Manila.

The peso was little changed at 49.32 per dollar.

“Philippines will remain an outperformer in the region,” said Rahul Bajoria, a senior economist at Barclays Plc in Singapore. “It is domestically driven, with consumption holding up quite well and the fiscal spending being planned. The global risks we’re seeing including to trade won’t fundamentally alter its prospects.

“In the short term at least, we expect the economy will continue growing at a decent pace,” Gareth Leather, senior Asia economist at Capital Economics Ltd in London, said in a note. “The foundations are in place for growth to remain strong, but recent political events, both in the US and domestically, have made the outlook much less certain.”

“Putting money on infrastructure-related stocks is the smart bet and it’s exactly what I am doing,” said John Padilla, who helps manage about $9.1 billion at Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co, the Philippines third-largest money manager. “This growth poses now more challenge for President Duterte to keep the pace. It supports the view that Philippines needs infrastructure to sustain this growth.”

Household spending, which makes up about 70% of GDP, rose 7.3% from a year earlier. Government spending gained 3.1% and investment surged 20%.


British Columbia first foreign govt to issue masala bond

Canada’s Province of British Columbia has become the first foreign government entity to issue a masala bond by floating Rs 500 crore rupee denominated overseas bonds on the London Stock Exchange.

The bond raised $75 million (about Rs 500 crore) with 6.62 per cent semi-annual yield, securing high-quality investor support from across Europe, Asia and America. It is a AAA rated bond by the three major rating agencies and will mature on January 9, 2020, The Province of British Columbia said in a statement on Friday.

Masala Bonds are rupee-denominated bonds issued to overseas buyers, aimed at investments into India’s infra needs.

The proceeds of the bond were immediately reinvested in HDFC’s second masala bond listing on the exchange.

India’s mortgage lender Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) had on Friday said The Province of British Columbia has subscribed the entire of its second tranche of Rs 500 crore rupee denominated overseas bonds.

“This transaction is a landmark deal as it opens up a new market for sovereign issuers and investors,” HDFC Ltd Chairman Deepak Parekh said in a statement on Friday.

“The pioneering simultaneous transactions on the LSE confirm RBI Governor Rajan’s recent statement that Masala bond issuances reflect ‘a coming of age of Indian debt’,” said Nikhil Rathi, CEO of London Stock Exchange.

The latest issuances bring the total number of masala bonds listed on the LSE to 33, raising the equivalent to about $3.86 billion for Indian infrastructure.

British Columbia Minister of Finance Michael de Jong said: “The international reputation and platform provided by the LSE sets the stage for more Masala bond issuances from around the world and will be most welcome for sustaining the Masala bond market’s success.”

HDFC Ltd, one of India’s leading banking and financial services companies, had listed the world’s first masala bond by an Indian corporate in July.


ADB trims developing Asia growth forecast; India on track

ADB today marginally cut economic growth projection for Asia and Pacific region for 2016, though India is likely to meet 7.4 per cent and 7.8 per cent growth forecast for this and the following year.

Asian Development Bank said it has cut its 2016 growth projection for developing economies in Asia and the Pacific to 5.6 per cent from earlier forecast of 5.7 per cent.

“South Asia, meanwhile is expected to be the fastest growing subregion, led by India, whose economy has shrugged off global headwinds and is on track to meet ADB’s March fiscal year 2016 (year to March 2017) projected growth target of 7.4 per cent, supported by brisk consumer spending and an uptick in the rural economy”, ADB said in a supplement to its Asian Development Outlook 2016 report.

“Although the Brexit vote has affected developing Asia’s currency and stock markets, its impact on the real economy in the short term is expected to be small,” said Shang-Jin Wei, ADB’s Chief Economist.

However, in light of the tepid growth prospects in the major industrial economies, policy makers should remain vigilant and be prepared to respond to external shocks to ensure growth in the region remains robust,” Wei said.

ADB said it now forecasts 2016 growth for the developing economies at 5.6 per cent, below its previous projection of 5.7 per cent. For 2017, growth is seen unchanged at 5.7 per cent.

Growth in 2016 and 2017 is led by South Asia, and India in particular, which continues to expand strongly, while China is on track to meet earlier growth projections, it said.

In Southeast Asia, growth projections for the subregion in the 2016 and 2017 remain unchanged at 4.5 per cent and 4.8 per cent, respectively with solid performances by most economies in the first half of 2016 driven by private consumption.

The exception was Vietnam where the economy came under pressure from a worsening drought that caused a contraction in the agriculture sector, it added.

ADB said growth in Asia and the Pacific’s developing economies for 2016 and 2017 will remain solid as firm performances from South Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia help offset softness from the US economy, and near-term market shocks from the Brexit vote.

It has projected inflation for developing Asia at 2.8 per cent for 2016 and 3 per cent or 2017- a 0.3 percentage point rise for each year from the previous forecasts.

“The rise is largely due to a recovery in oil and food prices,” it added.

The Manila headquartered ADB is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totalled $27.2 billion, including co-financing of $10.7 billion.

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