Investment bank Credit Suisse plans to expand its equities and wealth management operations in India, where foreign money has powered a near-doubling in share prices since early March.

Mihir Doshi, Credit Suisse country head for India, also expects demand for new equity issuance to remain strong. Indian firms have raised some $8 billion in equity so far this year, and Credit Suisse expects that figure to reach $20 billion by year-end.

"There is genuine interest in India, especially when you look at companies which possibly are in the deleveraging space, improving the balance sheet by raising capital," Doshi said on the sidelines of a Credit Suisse investor conference.

The Swiss firm relaunched its India brokerage business in 2007 after a six-year hiatus and now has research coverage of about 100 companies, a figure Doshi said could increase by 20.

The firm has also applied for a bank branch licence in India, which would help it build its wealth management operations and enable it to trade in fixed-income products.

At a time when the global economy is mired in recession, India's economy is growing at more than 6 percent annually, helping the country woo foreign money.

India's stock market has nearly doubled from a March trough as about $10 billion in foreign funds have poured into the market since an election victory for the ruling coalition government in May boosted hopes of reforms.

Dozens of companies, including state-run firms, are planning share sales. Adani Power last week raised about $630 million when it priced its IPO at the top of its offering range on heavy investor demand ahead of a trading debut this month.

Cash and derivatives market volumes have nearly doubled to about $17 billion from March as the stock market rally attracted investors, encouraging financial firms including Credit Suisse to add staff.

In late April, JPMorgan hired a six-member equity team from the Indian unit of Merril Lynch to strengthen its equities team in India.

Credit Suisse's equities business in India has a staff of more than 30 people in sales, trading, research and derivatives, and Doshi said there is room for growth.

"A year from now, we would like to have added five or six more people," said Doshi, who left Morgan Stanley's Indian joint venture in 2006 after 22 years with the Wall Street bank to join Credit Suisse as country head.

Credit Suisse's India business has about 160 staff.

Doshi said securing a bank licence would bolster its core wealth management business and enable it to trade fixed income products.

"We are clearly committed to expanding our wealth management business," he said.

Wealth management is a fast-growing and increasingly competitive business in India, with Barclays and Morgan Stanley among foreign banks building their operations to serve the country's millionaires.

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