E*Trade is eagerly eyeing the corner of the world with the most potential new "drivers" -- the emerging markets of India and China, where economic growth and the popularity of the Internet have created demand for financial services.
But Caplan noted that the two booming nations have little in common, except their large size. In India, E*Trade last October became the largest investor in brokerage giant IL&FS Investmart. (E*Trade is now seeking a controlling interest in the company.) Caplan describes India as a country whose culture celebrates and values entrepreneurship."At the same time that Indians are creating markets, they are creating a middle class, and the opportunities are powerful."
That is a far cry from China, where the economy is strictly regulated by the government and E*Trade has so far taken only limited steps, such as seeking permission for an information-only office in Shanghai. In fact, when Caplan told a financial reporter in Hong Kong about E*Trade's eventual desire to conduct business in China, his contacts told him that he was risking arrest and that he had to "figure out how to smooth things over before you open your mouth again, so you can come back here."
Arun Natarajan is the Founder of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.