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UK insurance firms looking to invest in India

    Vinay Kamath
    Swetha Kannan
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David Wootton, Lord Mayor of the City of London
Business Line David Wootton, Lord Mayor of the City of London

Recent reforms have created scope for investments, says Lord Mayor of London

The opening up of insurance in India will bring in more capital into the under-capitalised sector, said David Wootton, Lord Mayor of the City of London.

The Mayor, who has had a series of meetings with key government ministers in Delhi, said the move towards reforms in insurance is a welcome one, offering scope for more investments from non-Indian insurance players.

“We hope for further measures in due course. When the reforms go through, there will be interest from UK companies,” said the Mayor, in an exclusive interaction with Business Line.

He was in the city to release a report on carbon footprint reduction. The Mayor also met with the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu and several bankers.

Commenting on FDI in multi-brand retail, Wootton said British retailers are looking at India seriously. “A number of British retailers are already sourcing from India – such as textiles and clothing and this works well. Retailers won’t rush into FDI but will look at it carefully and do something that will suit the Indian market and is well received.”

Indian investments in London are also significant, said the Mayor, particularly referring to the Tata group’s “transformation” of Jaguar Land Rover and Corus.

“Over 65 companies are raising equity on the London Stock Exchange. And there are companies in the commercial debt markets; banks are lending to Indian projects. There is a huge amount of Indian work in London.”

And London is also ready to offer a lot to India. The city’s strengths in design, consultancy and master planning can benefit infrastructure projects in India, especially in the areas of renewable energy, water treatment, urban regeneration and transport, said Wootton.

Defending the London economy, the Mayor said the city has retained the world’s confidence, despite the turmoil in the global economy.

“Sectors such as insurance, shipping and maritime and foreign exchange are maintaining their position. The number of people employed has decreased a bit, but not significantly. The strong world view of London will continue.”

London has looked back at the events of 2009 with a “self-critical” view.

“We are tackling issues as they arise…not hiding them. For instance, if there is a Libor issue, we will deal with it.”

London is looking at risk management and elements of remuneration within banks differently, he said. “We want to do more to support small businesses.”

Is London insulated from systemic shocks? The regulatory structure and risk controls in banks are in place, said the Mayor. “The system is sound today. We are in good shape.”

vinay.kamath@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on October 11, 2012)
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