In a move that could significantly boost investor confidence, the government is set to allow UAE's investment agencies - including its sovereign wealth funds - to pick up equity in India's state-owned enterprises as it moves to boost the disinvestment programme to earn additional revenues in a slowing economy.
The government would look at disinvestment in another top 10 public sector undertakings by divesting 5-10% stake in each. As per prevailing regulations of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), any investor can acquire up to 25% of shares on offer provided he pays a price higher than other investors.
"The UAE investment arms have already evinced interest in picking up stake in the PSUs," a senior government official said.
The government is likely to increase the disinvestment target for the next fiscal to Rs. 40,000 crore. The issue was also discussed at a high level meeting between Indian and UAE authorities during commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma's visit to the region earlier during the week.
"Allowing other sovereign funds to invest in our disinvestment process would help in pushing the entire exercise which would be the thrust in the next fiscal," the official, who refused to be identified, said.
With a view to enhancing investments, the government could also consider treating the two separate investment arms of Abu Dhabi - Abu Dhabi Investment Council and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority - as different bodies. At present, they are treated as one investment unit by the Centre.
While the UAE emerged as India's largest trading partner overtaking China in 2012, with bilateral trade touching $ 73.81, its investments into the country stood at a level of $8 billion, which is far less than the potential of co-operation between the two countries.