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Mining may get PE, FII investments
February, 01st 2007

Cabinet will soon consider a finance ministry proposal to boost PE and FII investments in the mining sector. The finance ministry, along with Sebi has examined the possibility of providing special dispensation for the mining sector on the lines of Londons Alternate Investment Market (AIM) and Torontos Toronto Venture Exchange to encourage investment in prospecting companies.

The finance ministry is of the view that private equity, including venture capital, should be encouraged to flow into the mining sector, instead of being restricted to a few sectors such as IT, ITeS, and real estate. While it is not exactly known what special dispensation is being considered, the AIM allows a liberal listing regime.

Some of these liberal norms could include no requirement for a minimum float, no trading record, and no prior shareholder approval for transactions. Admissions documents may also be pre-vetted by a nominated advisor and not by the exchange. The AIM has become an attractive destination for raising money by Indian companies due to its liberal norms for listing, trading as well as shareholder approval for transactions, and pre-vetting of documents.

Experts say that with the record PE funds being set up for India, investors are already being stretched to explore new avenues for investments. The next step for PE funds will be to explore some of the old economy sectors which include coal, mining and even investments in the supply-chain of railway wagons, said head of a global PE fund.

The government proposal also suggests that assistance on the lines of those provided by Australian Stock Exchange including improvement in investor communications, equity research and appropriate index support to the sector are needed to encourage foreign investment in the sector.

The cabinet note has been issued to notify the new mineral policy that aims to attract large investments in the mining sector. Among other things, the policy also aims to reduce procedural hassles and provides security of tenure for a mining company to attract significant foreign investment.

Experts say, the issue of inflexible labour laws, a major deterrent for foreign investors, is not yet addressed. The proposal does not consider the issue of labour laws which is important for attracting sizeable foreign investments, a consultant said.

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