India has one of the fastest-growing capital markets on the planet.
One company that’s benefited is Australia-based Link Group.
Link Group began in Sydney as a corporate share-registry service. It is a now a global leader, with 7,000 employees. Today, Link Group administers financial ownership data for companies in multiple sectors, including pensions, property and funds management.
India has been a major part of Link Group’s global expansion story since 2008. Its Indian subsidiary, Link Intime, is registrar for 1,400 listed entities. In 2019, Link Group opened a global services hub in Mumbai. This now helps Link Group sustain a global operational and technological edge.
According to executives, the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA), in force from 29 December 2022 looks set to boost trade and investment opportunities.
Link Group’s core business is helping customers connect with their financial assets. The company’s technology enables clients to administer all changes in share ownership, as well as corporate transactions such as bonuses, splits and dividends. Its technology also generates insights for customers.
In 2008, Link Group made a strategic decision to grow in India. The big attraction was the sheer vibrancy of the capital market, according to Kishor Thakkar, Managing Director, Link Intime India.
‘India is a natural market for us,’ says Thakkar. ‘IT-enabled services (IT-ES) in India’s financial industry is already worth about A$200 billion. India is now the third-largest tech startup hub in the world. The IT-ES industry has 5 million direct employees, including 1.8 million women.’
Link Group’s first step was to acquire a 51% stake in local registry provider, called Intime Spectrum Registry. This was renamed ‘Link Intime’ and provided local support for Link Group customers in India.
The venture has proved hugely successful. Link Intime registry services have overseen the largest number of initial public offerings in 11 of the last 17 years. Link Intime is now 100% owned by Link Group.
Link Group was so impressed by the skills available in India, it created a new business unit.
‘In 2019 we set up our new centre of excellence, called the “India Hub”,’ says Rishi Dhuper, Director for the India Hub. ‘This is a global capability centre for Link Group. It provides technical and operational support to our businesses in Australia, the UK and Ireland.’
According to Dhuper, the new India Hub is a vital global resource.
‘The India Hub gives us a strategic competitive advantage in terms of cost and talent,’ he says.
‘The hub serves as a strategic business services arm. It creates value by helping our global operations adopt new technology.’
Dhuper says there are multiple reasons why successful Australian tech companies should expand in India. He says that setting up local subsidiary isn’t just a great route to market – it’s a way to accelerate growth.
‘India is a very competitive market for finance-related technologies,’ he says. ‘The price points for services are now very competitive. This means India is now a global centre for value creation in the global finance IT-ES space. This makes India a great opportunity for Australian tech.’
Another advantage is that in India, investors can scale up operations very quickly indeed.
‘Our India Hub grew extraordinarily quickly during our first 3 years,’ says Dhuper. ‘When we set up the hub in 2019, we had 50 employees. Now we have more than 1,050 employees and operate from twin offices in Mumbai and Pune.’
So far, the India strategy has been a huge success. Thakkar says that’s partly because Australian companies enjoy a cultural advantage in India.
‘There is natural camaraderie between Indian and Australian executives,’ he says. ‘It’s not just cricket. I think there’s a cultural affinity. We can quickly build trust.
‘There’s also a growing awareness that India has a huge amount of talent on offer. Australian tech companies know that they can set up a base here that will help them go global.’
According to Dhuper, the recent improvement in Australia–India trade relations will help exports and investment.
‘The reduction in tariffs will really help Australian tech companies,’ he says. ‘The AI-ECTA agreement will expand trade and shorten distance. Qantas has already announced it will start flying Sydney to Bengaluru (Bangalore) direct from 14 September.’
Austrade also helps. ‘Austrade helped us connect with Australian companies in India when we first started on this journey,’ he says. ‘This helped us to understand the local market.’
‘Austrade has been in India a long time, and their advisers make sure we are part of relevant events. Austrade’s India-based advisers help us to make vital connections in India’s dynamic fintech and startup ecosystems.’