'Not An Ideal Climate to Make Investors Feel Comfortable'

George Mathew, chief executive (India) of Espirito Santo Investment Bank, says India needs to get rid of its suspicion of foreign investors in order to boost confidence

Salil Panchal
Published: Oct 10, 2014 06:51:06 AM IST
Updated: Oct 7, 2014 12:53:00 PM IST

Life is not a template and neither is mine. Like several who have worked as journalists, I am a generalist in my over two decade experience across print, global news wires and dotcom firms. But there has been one underlying theme in each phase; life gave me the chance to observe and tell a story -- from early days tracking a securities scam to terror attacks and some of India's most significant court trials. Besides writing, I have jumped fences to become an entrepreneur, as an investment advisor -- and also taught the finer aspects of business journalism to young minds. At Forbes India, I also keep an eye on some of its proprietary specials like the Rich list, GenNext and Celebrity lists. An alumnus of Xavier Institute of Communications and H.R College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai, I have worked for organisations such as Agence France-Presse, Business Standard, The Financial Express and The Times of India prior to this.

'Not An Ideal Climate to Make Investors Feel Comfortable'
Image: Joshua Navalkar

Q. India’s markets have witnessed a sharp uptick in trends after the new government came to power. How realistic are stock valuations at the moment?
The Nifty index is up 24 percent year-to-date as stocks were re-rated after the new government assumed power. The market’s reform expectation is not misplaced, but the results will be slower than expected. Investors will have to work harder to search for value.

Q. What do overseas clients say about the investment climate in India? Is it starting to change?

They are optimistic about the longer term even as clients with a slightly shorter term mandate are playing for a correction.

Q. What more does the government need to do, or indicate, to boost investments?
It needs to provide a transparent set of rules to instill confidence in foreign investors. A judiciary at odds with the government [as seen in the coal scam and Vodafone tax case] is not an ideal climate to ensure that investors feel comfortable. India needs to drop its suspicion of foreign investors.

Q. Is M&A activity picking up for your bank?

We have been very active in equity markets this year. On M&A, we are working on financial services and technology sector mandates.

(This story appears in the 17 October, 2014 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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