A year after the launch of its "India Everywhere" campaign at the World Economic Forum (WEF), Commerce Minister Kamal Nath will be addressing global business and government leaders again at Davos this week in the backdrop of not only the Swiss alps, but also of new heights reached in the previous year, when there was a consummate execution of the theme by India Inc through a series of big ticket acquisitions in the lucrative American and European markets.
'India is on the world radar as never before, thanks to the current robust economic growth. No investor wants surprises, but (they want) improvements. And that is what we promise to deliver,' the minister said last week while addressing top business delegates at the annual Partnership Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
"There could not have been a better time to engage with India", said Nath.
India's economy is expected to grow 9 per cent in the current year, higher than previous expectations. Though doubts remain on the sustainability, almost no one doubts that the growth trajectory is on a high. A string of acquisitions by industrialists once disparaged as protection seekers also puts a new mark on India.
Then major overseas acquisitions by Indian companies last year include that of Jeco Holding AG by Mahindra and Mahindra for $120.45 million, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel by the Tata Group's Indian Hotels for $170 million, Tata Tea's acquisition of a key stake in Energy Brands Inc of USA for $677 million, Dr Reddy's acquisition of Betapharm for $570 million, Suzlon Energy's acquisition of Hansen Transmissions International NV for $565 million, and Ranbaxy Laboratories' acquisition of Terapia for $324 million.
Mittal Steel's merger with Luxembourg's Arcelor technically is not an Indian one because of its incorporation abroad, but Lame Metal, the tycoon who drove it, put India firmly on the global corporate map as he stitched up the world's biggest steel maker through the deal. Tate Steel's ongoing attempt to acquire Anglo-Dutch steel maker Cores Group ply added to the momentum.
Foreign investment inflows into India, including portfolio investment, were estimated to touch about $15 billion by the end of the current fiscal (2006-07), with more overseas firms eyeing good returns from the subcontinent.
Between April-November, equity inflows totalled $7.3 billion, a 117 per cent growth over the same period in the last fiscal at $3.5 billion, registering the fastest growth rate of foreign inflows into the country.
Global research and consultation firm Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) also backed the optimism. The EIU's fifth annual CEO briefing survey found that nine out of 10 top global executives rated business prospects during the next three years as "good" or "very good", with the dynamism in emerging markets, especially India and China, driving this optimism.