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India looks abroad, world looks to India

The country, emerging as a global economic and political player, has a lot of potential to shift the markets and has changed the way firms manage customers and back offices. Read on...

india Updated: Dec 05, 2007 14:11 IST

India is opening up to the world, and the world wants to come to India.

The potential of a rapidly growing country with a population of 1.1 billion is obvious, and leading executives and bankers will talk to Reuters about the surge in investment flows at the India Investment Summit on December 5-7 in Mumbai and Bangalore.

Among the headline grabbing deals this year, India's Tata Steel bought Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus Group in a $13 billion deal, and Britain's Vodafone paid $11 billion for a controlling stake of Hutchison Essar, the No 4 carrier in the world's fast-growing mobile phone market.

More deal prospects are in the pipeline, with Tata Motors one of three companies in the running to buy the Jaguar and Land Rover brands from Ford, along with Indian rival Mahindra and Mahindra.

As India, the world's biggest democracy, emerges as a global economic and political player, it can shift markets and has changed the way companies manage customers and back offices through its massive outsourcing industry.

There are also challenges for India. People are concerned about how competition from local conglomerates and foreign firms will impact their lives, and the new wealth is not evenly shared.

The Summit will open with Alan Rosling, an executive director of Tata Sons, the company that oversees the Tata Group's business interests that range from autos to steel and salt to software. Rosling is responsible for the group's international drive.

The software service export sector, which gets most of its income from the United States, has been hit this year by the rupee's 12 percent rise against the dollar and rising wage bills and uncertainty about the impact of the impact of subprime-induced slowdown in the United States.

S Gopalakrishnan, the chief executive officer of Infosys Technologies, will speak at the Summit, as will senior executives of Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro Ltd and MphasiS Ltd.

India's generic drug makers have revolutionised the industry, but their plans to expand internationally by acquiring firms have slowed down this year, although companies like Ranbaxy Laboratories CEO Malvinder Singh, who will speak at the Summit, has said he was always evaluating opportunities.

The drug makers, which have successfully challenged several patents in the United States, are also taking steps to move up the value chain and develop their own patented drugs.

The Summit will also examine India's financial sector from the perspective of both local banks and foreign players wanting to become big players in India.

Chanda Kochhar, joint managing director of India's largest private bank, ICICI Bank, will talk, as will the top executives of the local operations of UBS, Citigroup, HSBC, Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse.

India's financial sector has seen a wave of M&A deals, IPOs and secondary share sales, which have lured top financial firms and triggered a race for talent, which has helped some bankers' earn salaries comparable with their counterparts in Hong Kong.

Banking sector reforms are expected by mid-2009 to open up for greater foreign participation, but with elections due around the same time, nothing can be taken for granted.

Indian oil firms have been expanding domestic refining capacity and competing with Chinese firms for foreign petroleum assets to fuel growth in Asia's third largest economy.

Atul Chandra, the head of international business at Reliance Industries Ltd., which operates the world's third largest refinery at Jamnagar, will speak at the summit, as will Naresh Nayyar, managing director at Essar Oil, which plans to spend about $6 billion to expand its refinery.