An investment bank from the Kingdom of Bahrain on Friday announced the largest-ever foreign investment in Maharashtra, an $8-billion (Rs 32,000 crore) plan to set up an integrated economic zone comprising three tech cities along the Mumbai-Pune expressway.
Gulf Finance House will build a "Telecom City, a Software City and an Entertainment City" across 1,600-acres, announced the bank's Chief Executive Officer Peter Panayiotou and Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.
The investment is an addition to the bank's commitment earlier this year to invest $2 billion (Rs 8,000 crore) in creating an "Energy City", towards which it has already raised $630 million (Rs 2,520 crore) for the first phase.
Gulf Finance House has already acquired "the minimum land required" to kickstart the project, Industry Secretary VK Jairath told
"The rest of the land too will be acquired by them (the bank) directly," he said. Asked where the land was, Jairath said: "I would not like to disclose that at this juncture. The company is doing this directly."
The bank's chairman, Esam Yousif, said his company wanted to develop a world-class business and related social infrastructure in the "heart of the state's business corridor". A spokesperson for the bank's public-relations agency, Percept, said: "The ball will start rolling now. We will disclose the location at a later date."
The biggest investment announced thus far for Maharashtra has been Rs 12,500 crore for a power plant by now bankrupt American energy giant Enron Corporation.
"The specific business sectors that the economic development zone will focus on — energy, software and telecom — have emerged as key drivers within the Indian economy," said Panayiotou.
"Apart from being an acknowledged leader within the global software services sector, India also has one of the fastest growing telecom markets in the world with over 8 million telephone connections being added every month," said Panayiotou.
Panayiotou said the "cities" would be sector-specific business districts offering "a holistic live, work and play environment" to companies. Accommodation will include villas and apartments, serviced retreats, and several four- and five-star hotel properties.
The Entertainment City would be a mix of hospitality, leisure and recreational facilities with theme parks, themed hotels, fine dining, cinemas and more.
Riding on a surge of economic growth, India has emerged as one of the world's most attractive investment destinations.
Morgan Stanley Capital International Equity Indices, which compares returns from various markets, says India over the last five years has, after China, provided the second-highest annual returns at 38.36 per cent among the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries.
Founded in 1999, Gulf Finance House is one of the Middle-East's most-respected investment banks. It has several infrastructure investments, worth $12 billion, across the world.
This investment is spread across Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, India, Germany, Spain, Egypt, Morocco, China, USA, UK and France.