Predictable investment environment key for India: Russian fund

The Economic Times, 25.12.2012

NEW DELHI: India needs to ensure a "predictable investment environment" even though it has tremendous growth potential, according to the chief of $10 billion Russian sovereign wealth fund RDIF.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Chief Executive Officer Kirill Dmitriev's comments come in the backdrop of uncertainty over Sistema's investments in India following the cancellation of the telecom major's 21 licences.

"It is very important to have predictability. Investors want predictability. It is very very important... such as that the investment is not going to be taken away etc," Dmitriev said.

"So, I think, if India can focus and communicate that it has a predictable investment environment, the more success it (India) will have," he said in response to a query regarding his expectations from India.

Dmitriev, who was in the country as part of Russian President Vladimir Putin's official visit, emphasised that India has tremendous growth potential.

With an investment of more than $3 billion, Russian telecom firm Sistema holds 56.68 per cent stake in Shyam Sistema Teleservices.

Out of 22, SSTL's 21 licenses were cancelled by the Supreme Court in February this year on the grounds that a total 122 permits issued during the time of former Telecom Minister A Raja were 'arbitrary and unconstitutional'.

Russian government, that holds about over 17 per cent stake in Sistema, has expressed concerns over the issue.

Meanwhile, RDIF is looking for investment opportunities in India.

The sovereign wealth fund, on Monday, entered into a pact with State Bank of India for setting up a $2 billion investment consortium. Each party would put in up to $1 billion in the consortium, that would actively promote mutual investments.

RDIF has investment partnerships with China and Kuwait. "We want to focus on three to five deals that have high rates of success. Also, the projects would also provide synergies between India and Russia," Dmitriev said.

Areas for investment could be renewable energy, logistics and manufacturing, among others, he added.

According to Dmitriev, the sovereign wealth fund has already brought in investment proposals to the tune of $2.6 billion so far in 2012.

"About $12 billion worth new projects are being looked at right now, including opportunities in India," he said.

The bilateral trade between India and Russia, is expected to double to $20 billion by 2015.

"We believe that trade between India and Russia can grow dramatically. We want to find a way to re-energise bilateral relations between the two countries," Dmitriev said.