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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014

Airbus, Sanofi planning a $10bn French toast to India

Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 30, 2014
First Published: 00:00 IST(30/6/2014) | Last Updated: 00:07 IST(30/6/2014)

France is looking at making some big-ticket investments in India that may be worth upwards of $10 billion. Leading aircraft firm Airbus and pharmaceutical major Sanofi, both headquartered in that country, are working on plans to set up manufacturing units here.

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French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who arrives in India on Monday, will seek Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance on issues of taxation, land acquisition and availability of technical manpower while also pushing for military hardware sales to India when they meet Tuesday. Before that, Fabius is set to meet foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and finance minister Arun Jaitley.

According to South Block officials, Airbus is looking to invest anywhere between $10 billion and $15 billion in aircraft manufacturing as part of its Asia expansion plan and is expected to make a written offer to the Modi government in the coming days.

“Sanofi, which is into high-end pharma, is looking to invest $200-300 million in India if the government is able to give single window clearances and clarify on taxation issues,” said a senior official.

While Paris is keen on cementing economic ties with the BJP-led government, it has already made deep inroads into the Indian nuclear and space sector. The indigenous PSLV rocket is scheduled to launch a French satellite into space from the Sriharikota spaceport in Tamil Nadu on Monday — in the presence of PM Modi.

The two countries are also converging majorly in the defence and security sector. During his talks with Jaitley, Fabius is expected to bring up a proposed deal to co-develop a ship-based short-range surface-to-air missile worth $1.8 billion.

They would also discuss ongoing projects such as the upgradation of 50 Mirage-2000 fighters (at a cost of $2 billion), a project for six submarines at Mazagoan dockyards and the recently negotiated deal for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft.

Like Israel, a major arms supplier to India, France has refrained from supplying weapons to Pakistan.

France is also ready to offer technology to intercept voice over internet protocol telephony to help the Indian counter-terrorism machinery.

With Europe slowing down economically and French companies under threat of acquisition from China and America, the Francios Hollande government in Paris is looking towards India both as a strategic ally and a market in Asia.


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