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DSP Merrill Lynch spearheads drive into Indian real estate

Investors believe market remains full of potential.

Euromoney Liquid real estate March 2007 

Nipun Sahni has joined DSP Merrill Lynch in India as director and head of India global commercial real estate. He was poached from GE Commercial Finance where he was head of real estate in India.

Indian real estate has been buoyant in recent years with nearly all investments showing good returns. Economic growth has been strong, with forecasts of 9% for 2007, and with the IT sector growing over 30%, real estate is set for another bumper year. Huge potential returns have attracted interest from players including Citi, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

But movements in the last six weeks have caused concern. Indian realty equity fell 20%. Speculation that interest rates will continue to increase, and that the government could take further steps to prevent an asset bubble forming partly explain this downturn.

Investors are also acutely aware of limitations in India. A lack of infrastructure and support networks brings growth predictions of 8% to 10% into question. "If infrastructure in certain urban areas is not improved then isolated quality real estate will lose its sheen and values will drop," explains Kumar Gera, chairman and managing director of Gera Developments.

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