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JPMorgan Seeks to Back Startups After Dealmaking Wins in India

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JPMorgan Chase & Co., the top arranger of equity sales in India this year, wants to expand beyond dealmaking to help finance the growing pool of startups in the world’s most-populous country.

The bank plans to work with companies that are pioneers in their sectors, developing new products or services, according to Kaustubh Kulkarni, the senior country officer for India. The firm is targeting companies with a large consumer orientation in India, as well as abroad.

“We want to be there first with those companies,” Kulkarni said in an interview in Mumbai, where the New York-based bank opened new offices last month.

Despite a recent slump, the start-up ecosystem in India is robust. The fintech industry is the third-highest funded industry after the US and UK, according to data intelligence firm Tracxn Technologies Ltd. Investors in India’s startups include international and local players like Y Combinator, Peak XV Partners and TPG. Start-ups are also emerging in niche sectors like artificial intelligence, green hydrogen and clean energy, and are attracting interest from venture firms and strategic investors.

JPMorgan has focused on building deeper, more expansive relationships with clients over the last four or five years, and that’s bearing fruit, Kulkarni said. The bank ranks first for stock sales this year, up from sixth place for all of 2022, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The firm’s deals included the initial public offering by condom maker Mankind Pharma Ltd., one of the biggest IPOs of the year.

The engagement with startups mirrors the bank’s efforts to have broad-based relationships with mid-sized and large corporate clients that go beyond investment banking, according to Kulkarni.

“We do not want to just do transaction-based engagement but want to understand how we can offer products and services which are relevant to the global market and not offer only investment-banking services,” said Kulkarni, who is also the bank’s vice chair for Asia-Pacific.

JPMorgan, whose roots in India date back more than a century through predecessor banks, is one of the largest foreign lenders in the country, employing more than 50,000 people in cities including Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.

Green Sectors

Business services outsourcing, manufacturing, energy transition and green energy are sectors that will potentially see flows of tens of billions of dollars in the next few years, and the bank is focused on building relationships in these areas, Kulkarni said. Outsourcing from the US and Europe will continue to be a growth story, driving employment in urban areas, he said.

JPMorgan doesn’t plan to start a domestic wealth management business in India in the foreseeable future, in contrast to the likes of HSBC Holdings Plc that have recently restarted private banking.

“Our business and our entire focus absolutely is wholesale,” Kulkarni said. “There is a lot to be done in the wholesale banking business, and we are just scratching the surface.”

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