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Religare Capital Markets Ltd, a unit of financial services firm Religare Enterprises plans acquisitions or joint ventures to expand its investment banking and institutional broking business, a senior official said on Thursday.

To begin with it is looking at acquisition and partnership opportunities in Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong followed by Philipines and Vietnam, Shachindra Nath, group chief operating officer, Religare Enterprises, told reporters.

He did not say how much the company would invest in these acquisitions.

"We are looking at buyouts and ventures as it is difficult to start a new venture in a highly fragmented market in these countries," Nath said.

In the second phase, the company would be looking at expansion opportunities in China, Russia and South Africa, followed by Turkey, Slovakia and other emerging European countries, he said, adding the expansion would be completed over a period of 3-5 years.

The company is setting up its investment banking base in London with a pool of 100 people and would have liaison office in New York with 30-40 people, Martin Newson, the newly appointed chief executive officer of investment banking business, said.

Religare was founded by the family of Indian industrialist Malvinder Singh, which controlled drug maker Ranbaxy Laboratories until the family sold its stake to Japan's Daiichi Sankyo last year.

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