India roadshows to attract Gulf funds
Mumbai, June 7, 2012
India plans a roadshow next week in five Gulf countries to attract sovereign funds and other investors to help revive slowing growth in Asia's third largest economy.
A rapid pace of more than 9 percent expansion before the 2008 global financial crisis has softened to just 5.3 percent in the March quarter, the weakest in nine years, and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee hopes to attract petro dollars to invest particularly in the country's infrastructure.
India recently relaxed rules to allow foreign retail investors to invest in mutual funds, stocks and corporate bonds.
'A lot of people are ill-informed about India's potential. We want to tell investors, look, it is a robust economy with high savings, demand and investment opportunities,' R. Gopalan, economic affairs secretary, told reporters on Thursday.
He will head a team from the finance ministry, the Reserve Bank of India, the market regulator and stock exchanges on the trip to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait.
The delegation is seeking investment including via corporate bonds and infrastructure debt funds. India aims to invest up to $1 trillion in infrastructure over the five years through March 2017, of which it hopes to attract half from the private sector.
Abheek Barua, chief economist at HDFC Bank, said it made sense to tap the Middle East. 'If you look at NRI (non-resident Indian) flows for the past few months, a large part of it has come from the Middle East,' he said.
Economists have slashed their growth forecasts for India's current fiscal year, many to the low 6 percent range, after last week's GDP data.
Officials hope declining commodity prices and policy measures will ease pressure on a yawning fiscal deficit, although New Delhi has been unable to push through major reforms in recent years.
Foreign direct investment into India rose 88 percent to a record $36.5 billion in the fiscal year that ended in March, according to official data, despite a series of scandals that slowed policymaking and scared off many investors. BNP Paribas plans a conference in Monaco later this month for its clients to invest in India.
'We plan to hold such road shows in major cities in the US and other countries once we get a positive response in the Gulf,' said Thomas Mathew, a finance ministry official. - Reuters