Jargon and red tape busting

Jargon and red tape busting

Walmart and Tesco eye India entry

Supermarket giant Walmart have confirmed that India is high on their investment list. The news follows on from an announcement that Swedish firm Ikea are set to make an investment of $1.86 billion over 15-20 years to set up stores in India.

The CEO of Walmart International, Doug McMillon, met the Indian commerce minister Anand Sharma at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year. He is understood to have stressed that the chain are 'excited about India' and are believed to be studying market conditions more closely before making a final announcement. For his part, the minister issued a statement saying that India has resolved any lingering doubts about its foreign direct investment policy on multi-brand retail.

This follows an earlier decision by the Indian government to lift the cap in the multi-brand sector to allow 51% of direct foreign investment, although strict conditions were attached to sourcing. Walmart already has a presence in India with a 50-50 joint venture with Bharti Enterprises.

One of the clouds on the horizon has been created by media reports about Walmart's lobbying activities in the US. It is believed that a retired judge will be appointed to investigate whether these lobbying activities violate any Indian laws. Walmart has denied wrongdoing and has reiterated that lobbying activity is legal in the US.

Tesco are also interested in further involvement. The chairman of the UK supermarket chain, Richard Broadbent, also met Sharma and sought more clarifications on foreign direct investment. Minister Anand Sharma promised Tesco all the hand-holding needed for them to set up their operations in the country and extended an invite to its executives.

As in the case of Walmart, Tesco currently has a franchise agreement in India with the Tata Group's Star Bazaar stores. The continued interest from both chains lay behind a government statement that they were committed to playing a constructive role in encouraging investment in areas that would create jobs and further technological advancement, news that will clearly be of interest to other foreign investors.

Hinduja rising

The Hinduja Group is set to expand its presence in India over the next few years. A statement by the president of the Group outlined plans to make a sharp increase in its exposure to the market and to find the right partner for investment.

”We are extremely confident about India,” G.P. Hinduja said. “Our exposure in the country is about 17.5%, which we plan to increase to 30%. The statement was made during an Indo-European Business Forum summit organised at the London School of Economics as part of its annual India Week in London, and was readily supported by group chairman S.P. Hinduja.

”The key to doing business in India lies in finding the right partner,” he said. “Challenges of bureaucracy exist everywhere but the opportunities are immense.”

Hinduja recently signed a deal to acquire Belgian media company Alfacam, a struggling European firm which provides TV facilities and services to broadcasters and production companies. A memorandum of understanding for this acquisition was announced in Davos. At the same time, the firm revealed plans to significantly expand its presence in Africa.

Transport, infrastructure and coal mining are areas that it intends to target by partnering the governments of various African countries. There are plans to create business hubs in Kenya and in East Africa, in addition to existing hubs in South Africa, Tanzania and Nigeria. In addition, the Hindujas are exploring options in the public transport sector in African countries through Ashok Leyland.

Broadcasting India to the world

Britain is to get a new tailor-made Indian news channel. News18 India will feature news for the global Indian diaspora. It will initially be based in the UK, but will expand throughout the world if expectations are fulfilled.

“The world is watching India,” said Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in-chief of IBN Network, “and we hope to be their window on a country which is changing rapidly. News18 India will bring one of India's most formidable news networks to a truly global audience.”

IndiaCast are set to distribute the 24-hour channel in the UK. This company is a strategic joint venture between TV18 and Viacom 18. Other Indian news services available in international markets are largely re-transmissions of the domestic channels in India. News18 India will offer a customised blend of programming that reflects the interests of Indians around the world.

“India's resurgence is evident from the almost insatiable global interest in its present as well as its future,” explains RaghavBahl, founder and editor of Network 18. “This presents a compelling opportunity to deliver a service that meets this need. News18 India is our answer.”

The Network 18 Group own TV18 and are home to CNN-IBN, one of India's most awarded English news channels. They reach over 100 million viewers on an average every month. The new offering will include news bulletins, feature shows and exclusive interviews as well as covering subjects that range from politics to Bollywood.

“News18 India provides comprehensive business and political news service focused on India,” said Anuj Gandhi, Group CEO of India Cast. “The addition of this channel is yet another step in India Cast's portfolio expansion of brands for the Indian community overseas.” As if to emphasise Gandhi's words, News18 India will follow its UK launch by expanding into the US, Middle East, Canada and Australia.

Ready for the Indian market

A new ′India Readiness Programme' will help British companies keen to make their entry and expand into the Indian market. The service has been set up as the result of a unique partnership between the UK India Business Council and Cambridge-based cross-border firm, AcceloratorIndia.

The programme will combine the UK India Business Council's network and pan-India business centre platform with AcceleratorIndia's expertise in technology and innovation-led business development in India. It will be able to offer research, business development and advisory support.

“India has really opened up its economy to foreign investment and trade in recent years,” said Richard Heald, CEO of the UK India Business Council. “There are huge opportunities to be found in a number of sectors, and this partnership will help more companies take them. Many UK companies find the Indian market daunting at first, but with its growing importance in the world economy, it can no longer be ignored.”

Thanks to the India Readiness Programme, UK companies can assess how ready they are for entry to the Indian market. There are a range of services, from learning how to establish products and make services relevant to local market needs to addressing the unique challenges of selling into India.

“We are delighted to be working closely with the UK India Business Council to accelerate the entry of innovative UK companies into the Indian market,” said Dr Uday Phadke, executive chairman of AcceleratorIndia,

A recent survey of British firms found that 60% of companies find getting to grips with the Indian market problematic and around 55% find understanding Indian business culture an issue. This new service will help address these challenges and promises to pave the way for further investment to both countries' mutual benefit.

On the Indian launchpad

A new service will provide a one-stop platform for the expansion of their existing Indian operations. King's College London and the British Council will be among the first UK clients with many more predicted to follow.

Known as 'Launchpad,' the new service has been designed by the UK India Business Council and will be delivered through its new India Business Centre. The service was launched in Gurgaon in September this year and has already attracted plaudits from a range of senior figures.

“King's College London has chosen to locate its India-based research and partnership operations at the UK India Business Centre in Gurgaon,” says Tayyeb Shah, the director of international strategy at King's College London. “The Centre will provide us with excellent facilities and a base for academics and students doing India-related projects and studies. We have a strong alumni network in India and are expanding our research links, so Launchpad will support activities that King's is active in across the country.”

Launchpad also offers a dedicated consultant who will help to develop the companies' understanding of the market, with in-depth feasibility studies and detailed investigation of market conditions.

The new centre in Gurgaon is located at Infinity Towers in Cyber City, which acts as the 'hub' for the North Central Economic Region of India. A smaller spoke to this hub exists at Connaught Place in the heart of New Delhi as part of a long-term strategy to create a pan-India presence. The intention is to transform the quantity and quality of support available to British businesses, especially small and medium enterprises seeking to enter India or expand their existing operations in the country.

“Launchpad is an ideal platform for companies for their India entry,” explains Richard Heald, the Group CEO of the UK India Business Council. “For ongoing support, they can use our office and meeting space, hot-desking, mentoring, networking and training facilities as well.”

The Business Centre is the first to be rolled out across India and the first business-led initiative to be backed by the British government.

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