Global asset managers still believe the market is too small for the effort needed after some global firms pulled mutual funds out of India.
As interest in India grows as a more powerful force in the global economy, one of India’s most prominent financial entrepreneurs has warned that India is complex and unstable, and only brings success to those willing to commit to the long term.
“India is not a straight road,” said Rashesh Shah, who founded Edelweiss Financial Services Ltd. in 1995 and built it into a roughly $770 million group. “It’s not like you can take the US business model and just transport it,” he said in an interview in Mumbai. India “requires investment and patience. You’ve really got to have a 10 to 20-year view.”
Shah’s comments come as the South Asian country may have overtaken aging and slowing China as the world’s most populous country and last quarter its benchmark stock index traded against the S&P 500 at its highest level in a decade. Morgan Stanley predicts that India will account for one-fifth of global economic growth this decade.
Chairman Edelweiss, 59, said it was important to have “two perspectives” on India, optimistic about the long term but prepared for short-term disruption. (India’s stock market, for instance, faltered after an interview by a short-selling journalist targeting billionaire Gautam Adani’s empire.) Shah typically sets the 8% economic growth, a steadily declining range against the dollar, and the rupee.
Shah said companies like Hindustan Unilever Ltd. are showing that India’s efforts are paying off. Unilever’s share price in India has skyrocketed in the decades since it went public in India. He said some global asset managers see the market as still too small for the effort needed after some global firms pulled out of their mutual fund operations in India.
Marathoner Shah, who ran halfway through Mumbai in mid-January, has been struggling in India since the credit crunch in 2018 sent Edelweiss shares plummeting. Shares have fallen about 80% since May of that year, and in 2020 the company announced that it was selling a majority stake in its wealth management business to Hong Kong-based private equity firm PAG.
Calling it a natural rejection of a mature business, Shah stressed that he has no plans to retire anytime soon. “Nothing is going to change,” he said. “We are just spinning off this part.”