As many as 30 Alternate Investment Funds (AIFs) have lined up to enter the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in GIFT City in Gandhinagar, said officials on Thursday.
“Close to 25-30 AIFs are at very advanced stages of discussion. We have already issued license and we are in the process of getting applications for five more by the end of this month. We expect 25-30 funds to come in from another 2-3 months from now,” said Dipesh Shah, head development & international relations, International Financial Services Authority (IFSCA), the unified regulator at GIFT City.
Shah was speaking during a virtual panel discussion organised by Bloomberg LP on “The Future of Global Financial Centres: GIFT IFSC”.
In May 2021, True Beacon launched the first AIF in GIFT City and has attracted investors. The Indian Express has learnt that the other two AIFs who have been issued licences by IFSCA are Kedaraa Captial and Multiples Alternate Asset Management. Two others who are at an advanced stage of receiving licence are ASK Investment Managers and State Bank of India.
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During the panel discussion, Shah said there has been a rush of entities wanting to set up base in GIFT City ever since the unified regulator took charge of the project which was conceived in 2007 by the then chief minister and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We have seen tremendous progress on all fronts in terms of regulations, businesses and entities coming in. Between 2015 – when the centre began — to September 2020, we saw 128 applications being approved by the domestic regulators for the IFSC. Between October 1, 2020 — when the IFSCA became fully functional — to June 30, 2021, we have approved 44 applications. This covers different segments like banking, insurance, etc. For some of those entities like aircraft leasing, there was no law nine months ago,” Shah added.
The IFSCA official said that GIFT IFSC currently houses four aircraft leasing entities. “Our first leasing, which was a helicopter lease; the purchase agreement was signed yesterday. On Wednesday, GIFT City-based Vman Aviation signed the agreement with Airbus Helicopters SAS (Marignane, France) in Delhi.”
While speaking on the same forum earlier, Injeti Srinivas, chairman of IFSCA, said, “We are among the largest aviation markets in the world, if you look at the domestic and the international travel. We import more than 100 aircrafts every year and bulk of this business is being transacted in Ireland. We have taken a lot of measures to see that a complete ecosystem for aircraft leasing activities relocates here. We have to see what the competition is offering and we have to better it.”
Srinivas said gold has been made into a financial product in IFSC, where the process of establishing international bullion exchange.
The IAS officer however said that GIFT City is a “new concept that has to gain acceptance even within India.” “Budget after budget, the finance minister has been making announcements and giving some special benefits to this zone. But still, it has to gain that visibility and complete acceptance,” said Srinivas.
Richard Pattle LVO, co-founder and CEO of True Beacon — the first AIF in GIFT City — said “attracting human captial” to GIFT City would be the real “game-changer.”
In response to a question asked by one of the attendees if a future change in government will affect GIFT City in any manner, Tushar Sachade, partner, Price Waterhouse & Co. LLP said that any possible change in government could see “multiple financial services centre” being set up in India.
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