London: The first ever rupee-denominated bond in the world by an Indian company was launched today by HDFC Ltd. Termed as 'masala bond', the company's chairman Deepak Parekh launched it in the land of James Bond! It was listed at the London Stock Exchange, when markets opened for the week on Monday morning. There was huge applause as the large screens inside the iconic London Stock Exchange played out a portion of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech at Wembley stadium in London, in November 2015. "We have seen James Bond, Brooke Bond, now India is ready to offer the world Rupee Bond."
"Masala bonds will give better returns to investors and we as a company felt there is much liquidity now, the timing is perfect and so launched it today. London markets are deep and are well regulated. The listing of these bonds on London Stock Exchange gives us immense pride," Mr Parekh told NDTV.
"Besides being one of the largest stock exchanges in the world, London Stock Exchange has a rich legacy which dates back to over 300 years. This is the first issue of its kind in a global financial centre by an Indian company, and we hope much money can be raised through these bonds which India needs for infrastructural developments," he added.
So what is a masala bond?
1. HDFC Ltd is the first Indian company to launch a rupee-denominated bond. It has a maturity period of three years and promises a yield of 8.33 per cent a year.
2. Earlier, if an Indian company raised money in the UK, it did so in pounds and then converted them into rupees. When the bonds were redeemed they had to pay back in pounds. Currency fluctuation directly affected the company's income.
3. Being rupee-denominated, 'masala bonds' won't be affected if and when currency depreciates. Investors in the UK who buy these bonds get better interest rates (at 8.33 per cent per year currently).
4. The bond raised Rs 3,000 crore, equivalent to $450 million.
At the London Stock Exchange, which had seen a lull after the pound fell sharply since the June 23 referendum when Britain voted to leave the European Union, the news brought great cheer. The UK claimed global victory over it being chosen as the venue for the launch of the masala bond, at a time of Brexit. UK Chancellor Philip Hammond welcomed the landmark listing. "I'm delighted that Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) has chosen to list this landmark bond in London. It represents a major vote of confidence in London as the leading global financial centre and is further proof that Britain is a great place to do business," he said.
The target investors have so far been Asians mainly of Indian origin. Rupee-denominated bonds can raise more money for India and also give international investors higher yields. Some buyers include sovereign wealth funds.
"Taking advantage of the efficient listing process and tapping the global markets in London, global issuers can access a new vital channel of international finance and investors around the world without foreign exchange risk." said an upbeat Nikhil Rathi, CEO of London Stock Exchange.