Indian companies are flocking to New York for sophisticated legal advice on raising capital and gaining a position in the US market

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s August appointment of Ranji Nagaswami as the city’s first chief investment officer – charged with advising the trustees of the city’s five pension funds, which hold more than US$100 billion – made big headlines in India.

The 46-year-old Nagaswami left Mumbai to study at Yale University 25 years ago and has had little contact with India since, but to Indians her appointment epitomizes the critical links between New York and India. Despite a prolonged economic downturn, rising crime, high costs and a lockdown security mentality since 2001, New York maintains its position as a major destination for Indian investment.

The city’s well developed financial infrastructure remains a huge draw: 13 major Indian companies are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), including Dr Reddy’s, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam, Patni Computer Systems, Mahindra Satyam, Sterlite Industries, Tata Communications, Tata Motors and Wipro. According to NYSE spokesman Ray Pellecchia, the American depository receipts (ADRs) of these companies commanded a premium of 10.2% over the underlying Indian ordinary shares in 2009.

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