HALF CENTURY.

Half Century

The country’s mutual fund space may soon become a 50-member strong industry, with more than a dozen new players looking to start their businesses either this year or by early 2009.

The prominent names likely to start their mutual fund businesses soon include leading domestic financial services firm Indiabulls Financial Services, banks like Axis Bank, Bank of India and Yes Bank, besides a host of other local and overseas entities.

Out of these, more than half a dozen are expected to be up and running in 2008 itself, while state-run Bank of India is currently scouting for a foreign partner.

Indiabulls received an in-principle approval from the market regulator SEBI for starting its mutual fund business last week and expects its asset management venture to start in next 3-4 months, after putting in place management and compliance teams.

Currently, there are 33 fund houses in the country, collectively managing assets worth close to Rs5.5 trillion.

According to industry people, the market could soon attain a size of over Rs10 trillion given the huge potential yet to be tapped by the new as well as existing players.

Besides, industry experts believe that growth would benefit the consumers as well with an increased competition expected to result into various new products and that too with new benefits to the customers.

“More than half a dozen new mutual funds are set to enter the industry, hopefully this year. There is enough scope for the new entrants as now, we have just scratched the surface of the market and there is a long way to go. As of now, just about 5% of the households in the country are covered by the existing players,”said A P Kurien, chairman, Association of mutual funds in India.

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