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25 Oct 2006

Indian Stock Prices Rising

India is at the top of the BSE index in emerging markets with a 30-share benchmark. The country’s trading has recovered from a steep sell off earlier this year to hit a record high last week of 12,994.45.

Philip Ehrmann, a $374.7m fund manager at Jupiter Asset Management said in an interview with Reuters “Given the very high levels of valuation and the strong stock market performance, I think the Indian market is very expensive,”

Ehrmann is former head of Pacific and Emerging Markets at Gartmore where he ran 2 billion pounds in assets. He now manages Jupiter’s Asian portfolio, which was formed after the group split its 73 million pound Far Eastern fund.

The index in India stands at around 16 times 2007 forecast earnings, the growth in the Indian Stock markets undoubtedly helped boost the Indian economy to one of the fastest growing markets in the world.

Around 40 to 50% of the overseas money flowing into the Indian market is through participatory notes, and most of it is coming from hedge funds. Although the Indian authorities continue to modernize its regulatory laws over hedge funds, leading to some positive laws, hedge funds are still a cause for concern not only for the country’s stock markets, but also for the securities and Exchange Board of India [SEBI].

Other emerging markets on the rise according to other of Ehrmann’s recent Gartmore investments are Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Indonesia, Korea, Australia, China and Hong Kong.

Hedge Funds to Finance Football Club

Sam Hammam quit his post as Cardiff chairman and has been replaced by Peter Ridsdale as the club prepares for a huge new investment strategy. The identities of the new investors are still unknown, but in a statement Hamman revealed that they are looking to hedge funds to manage Cardiff’s £24m debt in exchange for equity in the club.

The statement read: “It has been clear for some time that if Cardiff City Football Club were to fulfil their ambitions to build their new 30,000-seater stadium…there was a requirement to bring new funding into the club… an agreement has now been reached for a debt for equity swap with institutional hedge funds, who have acknowledged the unique huge potential that exists with Cardiff City Football Club.”

Sam Hammam says they are “two or three” London-based financial institutions who specialise in hedge funds. The deal is being brokered by former Football League chairman Keith Harris, now head of investment bank Seymour Pierce. Harris is also advising the Icelandic businessman hoping to buy West Ham United.

Ridsdale said: “We will end up within 12 months being debt-free business and having a new stadium….Sam has taken his shareholding down from 82.5% to not a lot and people who are putting the money in wanted to see a change of management before their investment.” and that the new hedge funds will “become the majority shareholders.”

Hedge Fund wants Board Seat

Hedge fund Basswood Capital Management, a New York hedge fund with about $2 billion in assets under managements, is asking for a boad seat with WCI Communities Inc., due to the company’s “extreme underperformance”.

Basswood has about 2 million invested in WCI shares, or 5%. The hedge fund wrote in a letter that given WCI’s “large inventory of entitled land in coastal Florida purchased prior to 2000,” Bosswood is entitled to private meetings with each of WCI’s board members “a request it says has been previously ignored…...and debate if WCI could be sold to a larger, better capitalized and more profitable home-building company.”

WCI is a luxury home builder based in Bonita Springs, recent tradings have been down at $15.87, 16.5 percent below its March 2002 initial public offering price. The company has been progresing steadily downhill,condo defaults are at 4 percent. New orders were down by 80%, and in July, workers were laid off.

Other hedge funds with vested intrest in the issue are Highbridge Capital Management LLC, another activist shareholder with 3% and Wellington Management Co. LLC, with 12.6 percent of WCI.