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Bloomberg hosts Access India Dialogue with Ashishkumar Chauhan, CEO of BSE

Ashishkumar Chauhan, CEO of BSE, discusses how BSE is playing a pivotal role in boosting India’s growth and attracting foreign investments


In the second edition of the Access India Dialogue, Bloomberg hosted Ashishkumar Chauhan, CEO, BSE, for an exclusive discussion on how Asia’s oldest stock exchange is positioning itself to propel the India growth story. BSE is among the world’s fastest stock exchanges in terms of speed of transactions, and it’s also leading the way in terms of disclosure requirements, corporate governance, responsible investing and nurturing startups.

As India looks to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s target of achieving $5 trillion GDP by 2024-25, BSE’s role in attracting global investors and funds to the country, and easing access to markets, is of paramount importance. Pointing out some of the key factors that will drive this, Mr. Chauhan says, “Indian markets have become among the most automated markets in the world, with complete transparency, straight through processing and one of the fastest settlement systems. Corporate governance and ease of doing business have improved; India ranks among the top five markets in terms of investor protection.”

Attracting Foreign Investment

In addition to being the traditional gateway to India’s capital markets, the BSE has also set up the India International Exchange (INX), the country’s first international exchange at the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) located in the Gujarat International Finance-Tec City (GIFT City). INX is positioning itself to be the offshore exchange of choice for global investors and market participants. “INX is a very effective medium to bring onshore what has already moved offshore; today it is conducting trading in INR-USD futures, commodities, Indian indexes, stocks, futures and options. It also lists masala bonds and forex bonds of Indian companies, and the withholding tax for these are lower for these listings as well,” Mr. Chauhan explains.

Against the current geopolitical backdrop and the evolving situation in Hong Kong, Mr. Chauhan believes that the IFSC at GIFT City is well poised to take on some of the financial services activities that are currently run out of there. “Both Hong Kong and Singapore have traditionally been trading ports – and with the growth potential that India has to offer, financial services companies moving to the IFSC at GIFT City will be ideally placed to take advantage going forward,” he explains. Asked what the Government could do to help foreign funds access the Indian markets more efficiently, Mr. Chauhan points out rationalization of tax compliance policies for foreign portfolio investors as one of the key steps that could be looked at.

Supporting small businesses

Micro and small enterprises have a vital role to play as India pushes towards its aspiration of broad-basing economic growth; and BSE is looking at providing these companies with viable platforms to list and garner funding from the market. “Our SME segment has over 327 companies listed, where the average fund raising is $1.5 million. This allows these companies to raise funds in a regulated way, and also puts in the discipline of compliance with regulations for these companies,” says Mr. Chauhan. “BSE also supports early stage startups with funding requirements through its Startup Index, where the cost of listing is much lower, but compliance framework remains robust – so as to ensure that investors get reasonable and trustworthy information from the issuers,” he adds.

Taking its support for entrepreneurs and startups a step further, BSE also runs two incubators – one at the BSE building in Mumbai, and the other one in the north Indian city of Varanasi in partnership with the NITI Aayog (the Indian Government’s planning and policy think tank). “The idea is to foster and guide early stage startups through the incubators, and once they grow, they can list in our startup segment, and then eventually even list on the main board of the exchange once they achieve scale,” Mr. Chauhan says.

Leading the way in terms of ESG and Diversity

Indian corporate law now requires the top 500 companies by market capitalization to have at least one woman independent director on their boards, and this is something that the BSE is stringently enforcing across its members. “We have a good compliance culture in India among large companies and a huge majority of them have started focusing on diversity. We have also put in place a number of knowledge initiatives and events to stress on the importance of diversity among market participants including last year’s Girls Take Dalal Street initiative with Bloomberg and UBS where school girls were invited to BSE’s central hall to hear from successful women in the industry, so as to inspire them to consider careers in financial markets,” adds Mr. Chauhan.

In terms of ESG, Mr. Chauhan says that BSE has worked with the Government and the regulators to ensure a very stringent level of reporting and compliance, so as to promote a global standard of responsible investing and disclosures.

The Bloomberg Access India Dialogue is an exclusive series featuring in-depth conversations with pre-eminent thought leaders on the opportunities and challenges ahead as India charts its course towards the $5 trillion GDP aspiration.

For more about Access India, please go visit the Bloomberg Access India page

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