European development bank to woo Indian investment

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development chief Sir Suma Chakrabarti is visiting India early next month to attract investment from corporates.

London: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development chief Sir Suma Chakrabarti is visiting India early next month to attract investment from corporates.

Chakrabarti will meet big corporate houses such as Tata group, Mahindra & Mahindra and Reliance Industries in Mumbai and Delhi during March 4-7. The EBRD chief will also update Finance Minister P Chidambaram on discussion with corporates.

The visit follows British premier David Cameron's visit to India this week.

"There is a good track record of cooperation between India and the EBRD in the past but given the sheer size of the Indian private sector, that cooperation should be much, much stronger. This visit is aimed at rejuvenating old links as well as building new ones," Chakrabarti told reporters at the bank's headquarters here yesterday.

Cameron during his India visit had sought a "special relationship" between the two countries, saying it is "about the future and not the past".

India is a global player and the Indian government's goals are consistent with the EBRD's goals of achieving sustainable economic systems that help build regional and political stability, he said.

"I will be updating Mr Chidambaram on my discussions with Indian companies such as the Tatas, Mahindras, Reliance, JSW Steel and Exim Bank in Mumbai within this larger political context," he told the Indian Journalists' Association.

The value of joint India-EBRD investment stood at 806.8 million euro last year, with Indian investment accounting for 165.3 million euro.

The EBRD is an international development bank that invests in projects to create sustainable open-market economies.

India is an important source of foreign direct investment (FDI) within its scope of operations, which include 34 countries from central and Eastern Europe to central Asia, he said.

The key Indian investors have been the Tata Group, across the automotive, tourism and information technology sectors; the Mahindra Group, in relation to agricultural equipment; Reliance Industries in the field of petrochemicals and oil products; and Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative (IFFCO) in chemicals, he said.

India-EBRD investment has been strong in Russia at 562 million euro, followed by Turkey at 75 million euro, and Romania at 56 million euro.

Broken down by industry, joint India-EBRD investment has been 526 million euro in financial institutions, and 280 million euro in industry, commerce and agribusiness.

Chakrabarti said, "Indian investments are quite high in the areas of interest for the EBRD. Indian companies know Russia quite well and are heavily investing in Egypt, representing 67 percent of the total capital investment in the region.

"We will be keen to see how else we can work together, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. The EBRD comes with a strong reputation and we always carry out a thorough pre-screening of projects. So there is a lot of benefit of such a cooperation on both sides, said Chakrabarti, elected last year as the first Indian-origin president of the financial institution which has so far been led by French or German presidents.

The West Bengal born Oxford graduate has extensive experience in international development economics and policy-making.

His visit to India next month will mark the first high-level visit from the bank since 2007.

While India is not a member, the EBRD is free to work with any nation in the world that invests in projects within its 34 countries of operation.