London continues to be a preferred investment destination for Indian companies with international aspirations as 18 new firms have chosen to expand to this global hub for business so far this financial year, said Hemin Bharucha, Country Director-India, London & Partners.
London & Partners is London’s economic development agency and the Mayor of London’s office in India. This social enterprise helps Indian companies to set up a base in London and also enables London-based companies to do business here.
“There is tremendous interest and we are seeing a bullish trend. More and more Indian companies want to locate themselves in London. Typically, the companies were into software (mostly SaaS). But in the last two years, we are now seeing firms focusing on clean tech, edtechs, life sciences, and smart cities,” Bharucha told BusinessLine.
From a level of over 90 per cent, technology-based companies’ share has come down to about 60 per cent. Other areas like clean energy, and life sciences are growing in a big way. He highlighted that of the 18 new Indian companies, as many as nine were from the financial and business tech services sector, three from the creative, urban, and lifesciences sector each. Seven of these companies are from Bengaluru, followed by four from Pune, two from Mumbai and NCR region each, and one from Hyderabad, Mohali and Chandigarh each.
It may be recalled that India continues to be the second largest FDI investor into the UK and has retained this position for the third year in a row.
Asked as what was driving Indian companies' interest to expand to London, Bharucha said three primary factors attracted Indian firms — customers, access to global funding and global talent.
On recent challenges like Brexit, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the fall in pound sterling value, Bharucha said these issues have all actually worked to Indian companies’ advantage. “Brexit as an event did not affect Indian companies' investment interest,” he noted.
The UK economy is widely expected to enter a painful recession in the fourth quarter of this calendar year that will last until late 2023.
Bharucha highlighted that Indians view London as a safe investment destination and pointed out that the legal system and accounting system in the UK are similar to the ones in India. “Indians are comfortable with the UK law. Also when times are difficult, the first place they want to invest is London. We have seen record numbers of investments coming from India to London in recent years,” he added.
He also said that London & Partners, which has offices in Mumbai and Bengaluru, does not charge any fees for its services. This agency wants to raise its profile in India, letting companies here know that London & Partners is keen to help them in their international journey.
Handholding start-ups from India is one big focus area for it in the recent years, he noted.
Mega UK business delegation visit
Bharucha said London’s Deputy Mayor for Business Rajesh Agrawal will lead a large business delegation to India in February next year.
“We will take the delegation across cities in India. We will be happy for like-minded companies to engage with them. London & Partners will do match-making conversations ahead of the delegation visit so that when they come they can engage in advanced talks,” he said. This delegation will look for partners in India and companies they can work with to distribute their services and products in the country.