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21 Nov 2006

Hedge Fund Investment possibilities in India, Pakistan and China

Emerging markets are again catching the eye of more foreign firms as an investment destination.

Morgan Stanley sees India's FDI rising to $10 billion, or 1 percent of GDP by 2008, with the flows mostly targeting low capital services and manufacturing for the domestic market, rather than factories for exports like many in China.

Since the start of 2002, the Pakistan market has risen 741%, topping the 297% gain for India's Sensex. Still, Pakistan stocks only trade at about 10.6 times forecast profits, while Indian stocks trade at 20 times earnings. Pakistan, one of the world's hottest emerging markets despite current instability, has an economy that grew by 6.6% in the financial year that ended in June, a rate that the government expects will rise to 7% this year. Liberal rules on foreign investment are luring overseas players, with foreign investors pouring $307 million into the market since July 1.

Pakistan's biggest listed firm, Oil and Gas Development Co., is planning the the $1.4 billion sale of global depository receipts (GDRs) and local shares in December. Money from the Middle East, and increasingly Singapore and elsewhere in East Asia, has been helping drive growth, with infrastructure, energy, financial services and makers of consumer goods such as motorcycles seen as attractive plays.

Last month, MCB Bank raised $150 million in a London GDR issue. Earlier this month, Pakistan Mobile Communications (Pvt.) (Mobilink) attracted nearly $4 billion in orders for its $250 million bond, the country's first corporate offshore bond issue.

The Karachi 100 index is up 12 percent this year on daily turnover that exceeds $400 million, making it more active than markets such as Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

In China the government wants foreign money to help with an estimated $350 billion worth of projects to build an efficient road network, expand ports and address a woeful power deficit. Michael J. Cannon-Brookes, vice president of business development for China and India at IBM, said to Reuters in Bejing; "In manufacturing you need infrastructure to run your plants, get your goods to market and bring in supplies. That's clearly a strong selling point for China."

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