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Friday, Aug 11, 2006

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Peerless eyes asset management space

Nilanjan Dey

Indrajit Gupta to head its broking arm

Kolkata , Aug. 10

Peerless General Finance & Investment Co proposes to foray into the asset management business as part of its plan to enter areas that are not too different from its core function - mobilisation of savings.

Peerless, known as a residuary non-banking finance company, has reviewed various aspects of the mutual funds sector, including the competition it is likely to face from existing players.

The company, which has a large depositor base at the grassroots level, will need to take a formal view in this regard, according to Mr S.K. Roy, Managing Director.

He added that managing investors' money will not be far removed from the activities it is essentially engaged in.

Peerless, which distributes third-party mutual funds, will be required to set up an asset management company to undertake the business, under existing SEBI regulations.

The company, which started in a small way in the 1930s, has now grown into a large organisation, complete with a network of grassroots workers, Mr Roy said, referring to its growing geographical presence and widening depositor base.

Despite some consolidation in the past few years, the asset management space currently has about 30 players.

These include a number of homegrown outfits from housed such as the Tatas and the Birlas as well as foreign fund houses such as Franklin Templeton and Fidelity.

Besides, there are companies sponsored by banks such as SBI, HSBC, ABN Amro and the like. A few overseas names, such as AIG, JP Morgan and Axa, are expected to enter the fray.

Broking arm

The securities broking arm of the Peerless Group has roped in Mr Indrajit Gupta, former head of SBI Capital Markets, to oversee operations, it is learnt.

Peerless Securities is now expected to compete more effectively in a sector that has seen a number of players leverage technology in order to expand on a national scale.

Many of them have started offering Web-based broking services to their clientele.

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