$350b Kuwait sovereign fund to invest on India story

Tags: Companies
Kuwait Investment Authority, the oldest and one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, is likely to set up an India office to promote investments in the wake of reforms in the FDI norms and the government’s ambitious disinvestment programme.

“The Kuwaiti side agreed to consider the Indian side’s suggestion to open an office of Kuwait Investment Authority in India,” a joint statement issued by the two governments said at the end of the bilateral visit of the Kuwait’s prime minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. Sheikh Jaber’s four-day visit ended on Sunday.

Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund is estimated at around $350 billion, and is rising at $25 billion every year, according to India’s external affairs ministry.

Most oil-rich countries have huge sovereign wealth funds. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is valued at around $750 billion and the Dubai Investment Authority at $500 billion. Saudi Arabia, too, has a large sovereign wealth fund.

Since its inception in 1953, KIA has based its investment decisions exclusively on commercial considerations.

KIA managing director, Bader M Al Sa’ad, was part of the Kuwaiti prime minister’s delegation.

The two sides recognised the need for arranging introductions/meetings between Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) and Indian public and private sector companies.

The Indian government has been desperate to attract sovereign wealth funds to finance its high current finance account deficit, which touched 4.8 per cent of GDP in 2012-13 at $88.2 billion. CAD is expected to be contained at less than $70 billion this financial year. Also, the government has an ambitious plan to sell Rs 40,000 crore worth of shares in state-owned companies this financial year. Besides, India has been eyeing up to $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure sector during the current plan period.

According to the foreign ministry, the two countries are looking to cooperate in energy, steel, power generation, transmission, civil construction, railways, metros, hospitals, airports, housing and roads. They are also exploring the possibilities for setting up a joint venture steel plant in Kuwait.

Kuwait is looking at investments in India’s oilfields and refineries. The Indian finance ministry has chalked out plans to meet sovereign wealth fund managers in the next two months to encourage them to remain invested in India and explore opportunities for long-term investments, particularly in the infrastructure sector.

krsudhaman@mydigitalfc.com

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