Indian promise lures Aussie banks

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What is it about ABN AMRO employees that's so irresistible to Babcock & Brown (B&B)? The ASX-listed investment bank has poached ABN's entire Indian M&A group, having nicked its infrastructure team 18 months ago.

ABN staff might well be desirable, but this latest raid was motivated more by location: India. While outsourcing retail support roles to the sub-continent is common, we are now starting to see banks, including B&B and Macquarie, ramping up front-office teams in India.

Macquarie is hiring in retail and structured products, appointing Irfan Khan, ex-head of structured products at Citigroup in Sydney, for its Indian structured products distribution.

And Macquarie is not alone. Sean Glover at Westpac Institutional Bank says: "We see India as a growth area for us, and we are looking to strengthen our presence there."

JPMorgan's COO, David Miles, adds: "Mumbai is one of JPMorgan's largest offices in the world, focusing on global support and local banking activities."

"The market is massive," says Oliver Darkes at recruiter Carmichael Fisher, "especially in property and infrastructure, and it needs billions for development."

Australian infrastructure funds are already there, including AMP Capital, which now has an India fund, says Christine Kwan from Derwent Executive.

And ABN is looking to rebuild after the shock staff losses: "ABN AMRO's M&A business, which is booming off the back of the strong Indian economy, has moved quickly to plug the gaps through internal transfers, but it's nonetheless on the lookout for one or two senior transactors," says a spokesman for the bank in India.

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