Cabinet approves ₹2,480 crore FDI in ATC Telecom

Source: LiveMint.com, Nov 25, 2020

Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved ₹2,480 crore foreign direct investment (FDI) in ATC Telecom Infra Pvt Ltd. ATC Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd is looking to acquire 12.32% stake in ATC Telecom Infra Pvt Ltd through the FDI route.

“The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the FDI proposal no. 4930 for acquisition of 12.32% of the equity share capital (on a fully diluted basis) of M/s ATC Telecom Infrastructure Private Limited by M/s ATC Asia Pacific PTE Limited as a result of exercise of put option by M/s Tata Tele Services Limited (TTSL) and Tata Sons Private Limited (TSPL),” the Union cabinet said in a statement.

This would lead to foreign direct investment inflow of ₹2,480.92 crore. With this approval the cumulative FDI of M/s ATC Asia Pacific PTE Limited (ATC Singapore) into ATC Telecom Infrastructure Private Limited (ATC India) will be ₹5,417.2 crore in financial years 2018-19 to 2020-21.

ATC Telecom Infrastructure Private Limited is engaged in the business of providing telecom infrastructure services to telecom operators. The company has existing FDI approval up to 86.36 % and with this approval it will rise to 98.68% (on a fully diluted basis), the centre said. Founded in 2006, ATC Asia Pacific Pte Ltd’s business includes holding or owning securities of companies other than banks.

India expects $3.4 billion FDI in data center infrastructure: Anuj Puri

Source: Business Standard, Nov 04, 2020

Mumbai: Data centers are to become the next big segment after warehousing and nearly USD 3.4 billion foreign investments is expected in this space in the coming 3 -4 months, a top official of a real estate services company said on Wednesday.

India is the largest consumer of data, the government had suggested that data centers of the world be built in India, thereby making all the data majors to consider investment in the country, he said.

“Nearly USD 3.4 billion foreign investments is expected in this space in the coming 3-4 months,” Anarock Group chairman Anuj Puri said at the ICC organised ‘Build East Conclave’.

Puri said at the initial phase of the pandemic the sector stalwarts were sceptical of any short-term revival but current statistics are more optimistic, given that 1.5 crore square feet of new leasing has been witnessed in the office segment and it is expected that the current year statistics will move up to 2.4-2.5 crore sq ft which is quite encouraging.

Residential sales have also improved in Q2 of the current financial year as compared to Q4 of last financial year, he said.

Ambuja Neotia Group chairman Harsh Neotia said hospitality will need more time to recover but residential was better as the economy moves toward normalcy.

New guidelines in works to speed up FDI approvals

Source: The Economic Times, Oct 28, 2020

NEW DELHI: The government of India, eyeing overseas investments, has begun working to revamp the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for processing foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals to fast track approvals.

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is preparing a new set of guidelines to expedite the process for clearances, including security, for investment proposals on the approval route.

As per the existing SOP issued in 2017, when the Foreign Investment Promotion Board was abolished, 8-10 weeks was time fixed for a decision on the proposals that need approval and 20 documents were to be submitted, seven of which were mandatory.

“An updated SOP on FDI is in the works with updated timelines and procedures,” said an official.

To ensure timely disposal of FDI proposals, periodic reviews are done by the department and the Cabinet Secretary with other stakeholder ministries. Officials said an updating of the procedures is required as many changes in the policy have taken place in the last few years such as in sectoral caps.

“It will speed up the FDI that comes through the approval route. The existing SOPs are 3-4 years old and there is a need to make them contemporary,” said another official.

India received $35.37 billion foreign direct investment during April-August 2020, the highest so far for the first five months of a financial year.

The second official quoted earlier said while pendency has reduced, some ministries take time while giving approvals. FDI in sectors such as defence, mining, retail, pharmaceuticals, civil aviation, media and banking requires approval from the respective ministries.

Besides, security clearance from home ministry is needed in investments in broadcasting, telecommunication, satellites – establishment and operation, private security agencies, defence, civil aviation and mining & mineral separation of titanium bearing minerals and ores, its value addition and integrated activities.

The latest norms mandate prior government approval, including security clearance for all FDI coming from India’s land-border sharing countries including from China. Over 100 proposals involving investment from China and Hong Kong have been held back for government nod. An inter-ministerial committee headed by the home secretary has been set up vet these proposals.

FDI up 16% to $27.1 bn in Apr-Aug compared to $23.35 bn year ago: Govt data

Source: Business Standard, Oct 21, 2020

New Delhi: Foreign direct investment (FDI) in India has increased by 16 per cent year-on-year to $27.1 billion during April-August this year, the Commerce and Industry Ministry said on Tuesday.

During April-August last year, India had received FDI worth $23.35 billion.

The ministry said that the total FDI, which includes reinvested earnings, grew by 13 per cent to $35.73 billion.

“It is the highest ever for the first 5 months of a financial year and 13 per cent higher as compared to the first five months of 2019-20 ($31.60 billion),” it added.

It also stated that the total FDI inflow grew by 55 per cent from $231.37 billion in 2008-14 to $358.29 billion in 2014-20.

“FDI is a major driver of economic growth and an important source of non-debt finance for the economic development of India. It has been the endeavour of the government to put in place an enabling and investor friendly FDI policy. The intent all this while has been to make the FDI policy more investor friendly and remove the policy bottlenecks that have been hindering the investment inflows into the country,” it said.

It said that the steps taken in this direction during the last six years have borne fruit as is evident from the ever increasing volumes of FDI inflows being received into the country.

“Measures taken by the government on the fronts of FDI policy reforms, investment facilitation and ease of doing business have resulted in increased FDI inflows into the country. The following trends in India’s FDI are an endorsement of its status as a preferred investment destination amongst global investors,” the ministry said.

FDI cap in digital news meant to check Chinese, other foreign influence, says I&B official

Source: The Economic Times, Oct 19, 2020

New Delhi | Bengaluru: The government’s clarification on Friday that the rule allowing 26% foreign direct investment (FDI) in digital news will apply to news aggregators, entities uploading streaming news on websites apps and other platforms as well as news agencies, is intended to check “foreign influence and interference in India’s domestic affairs, check Chinese and other overseas funding in news sites”, according to top I&B ministry officials. Importantly, the new rules will “create a level-playing field for all media”, as per these officials.

The presence of Chinese and foreign-owned digital media outlets that did not comply with the FDI cap, notably entities such as Dailyhunt, UC News, Opera News, and NewsDog were of concern, an official said. According to senior officials, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) was the among the first to raise concerns over aggregators.

Government officials said the clarification will help in developing “an improved regulatory framework for digital news sites” and address the present lack of regulatory oversight over digital media news entities under the FDI policy. It also addresses concerns of stakeholders regarding circumvention and evasion of FDI policy.

“News is a very sensitive area and a matter of national security. After Doklam and the abrogation of Article 370, we noticed a rise in content that is misleading and can lead to unrest. Some news entities may serve as propaganda vehicles inimical to India’s interests and seek to influence Indian elections. We are concerned with transparency in funding and operations, and we want to encourage only genuine FDI flows that are not inimical to India’s interest,” an official told ET, on condition of anonymity.

“A significant proportion of news content published and consumed on digital media comes from news agencies and aggregators. The new rules provide a level playing field for Indian news publishers on digital media with those funded by foreigners. It also brings parity between FDI limits in print & FDI in digital media entities,” the official added.
The official added that new FDI policy requirements, particularly mandating Indian citizenship of majority of directors and the CEO, will help the government seek accountability from the news portals.

The government has been concerned with news articles, largely on the internet, that contain “anti national” narratives, particularly during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the Delhi riots and Kashmir unrest. Digital media in India does not have a self regulating body, unlike print or TV.

The clarification issued on Friday comes months after the government brought out a proposal to re-work the Press Act by making it mandatory for all online news portals to register with the government.

Digital news aggregators now will also have to comply with rules that exist for print and TV media, requiring a security nod from the home ministry for their employees who are not Indian citizens. In the last five years, the I&B ministry cancelled the licenses of 251 TV channels, and in many cases because they could not procure a security license from the home ministry.

The entities covered by the guidelines will get a year to align their operations in line with the current rules.

In August last year, when the Cabinet announced a 26% cap on foreign direct investment for news websites subjecting to official approval on a case by case basis, the DPIIT (Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade) had asked for inputs from the I&B ministry to clarify the policy further. The Centre had earlier approved 26% FDI in print media and 49% for news channels.

A senior government official said it took many consultations before the I&B ministry wrote back to the DPIIT with its suggestions, most of which have been incorporated in the final policy.

The official added that for the first time, the ministry has also decided to consider granting accreditation benefits to organisations in the digital space, and was looking at more benefits to boost the Indian digital industry.

Pure-play digital players, however, say the rules could be restrictive, particularly for news aggregators, and to digital news sites that gather news in India and publish content from here through local teams.

Since the rule of 26% of FDI will be applicable not only to digital news media companies but also in news aggregators and global news agencies which gather news, write and distribute news in India, digital arms of these agencies registered in India could face challenges in their existing system of operations here. Experts, however, said these companies will have to come up with new structures — including uploading content from other places and employ contributors instead of employees .

Completely foreign-owned news sites operating in India, however, will have to put in place major changes, such as get an Indian partner, they added. The clarification by the government however does not mention anything about columnists writing on India from other countries.

According to Rameesh Kailasam, CEO of IndiaTech.org, a lobby group for Indian startups, “Online news aggregators are technology companies that do not create their own news content. International news aggregation platforms are today multi-billion dollar assets and it is imperative for India to support similar startups in this space.With competition continuing to be with global aggregators with disproportionate capital, restricting FDI in Indian startups creates an unfair advantage for global players,” he added.

Some of the popular news aggregators such as Dailyhunt and InShorts are expected to be hit by the new government rule. While Dailyhunt has attracted investments from Falcon Edge, Goldman Sachs, and Stonebridge Capital apart from Chinese-internet firm ByteDance, InShorts counts Tiger Global, Japan’s Rebright Partners and American venture capitalist Lee Fixel as its investors. Both the startups declined to comment.

In September, Umang Bedi, co-founder of Dailyhunt told ET that the startup will adhere to all government orders, including future laws that may mandate a reduction in Chinese investments in the company.

“We are a company that is adhering to all the laws of the land, in the past, in the future, and new laws that will emerge,” Bedi had told ET. “Tomorrow if they want to put in more primary we are not taking it because we want to adhere to the laws of the land. Tomorrow if the government says you have to reduce your stake, we can do that also.”

Bedi had gone on to clarify that ByteDance was a minority shareholder of Dailyhunt with no special rights. Dailyhunt does not share code and nor does it have any business cooperation with the Chinese company, he added.

‘India among top 3 overseas investment destinations’

Source: LiveMint.com, Oct 14, 2020

India will be one of the top three overseas investment destinations for the next two-three years, according to a survey by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and EY, which assessed the country’s competitiveness on selected parameters.

According to the survey, India is the number one choice for future investments for over two-thirds of multinational companies. More than 80% of all respondents and 71% of the non-India headquartered respondents plan to invest globally over the next two-three years and about 30% companies were planning to invest over $500 million each globally.

“The CII-EY survey results strongly indicate that India will be the next global investment hotspot with a high proportion of MNCs (multi-national corporations) placing it at the top of their investment agenda. The recent major structural reforms, proactive government processes and the quick pickup in economic activity following unlock measures are contributing to global investor interest,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general, CII. It said new investments will be driven by capacity expansion, digital transformation, research and development and greenfield investments. The respondents said market potential, skilled workforce and political stability are the top reasons to make India their favoured destination.

Govt sets up panel to screen all Chinese foreign investment proposals

Source: The Economic Times, Oct 01, 2020

New Delhi: India has set up a screening panel to vet all Chinese foreign investment proposals and those considered “non-controversial” could be approved, a senior government official told ET. More than 100 proposals involving foreign direct investment (FDI) from China are pending.

Prior government clearance was made mandatory for FDI from countries sharing a land border in April. This was widely seen to be directed at curbing Chinese takeovers of companies amid stock market volatility in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. This scrutiny intensified following tension on the border.

The screening panel is headed by the home secretary and has the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) secretary as a member.

“An inter-ministerial committee has been set up to look at the proposals that various ministries had received that were forwarded to the home ministry for security clearance,” said the official cited above. The proposals that are “non-controversial” could be approved after the committee examines proposals from the point of view of ownership and its implications for security, the person said.

Prior Nod for Critical Sector Investments
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman told ET in an interview on Tuesday that there was no ban on Chinese investments.

“If there is this feeling that is coming that we have stopped investors from a particular country, no we have not done any of that,” she had said, adding that investments are being regulated but not stopped.

FDI from China was $2.4 billion or 0.51% of the total between April 2000 and June 2020.


DPIIT notified the new FDI policy on April 18. “An entity of a country, which shares land border with India or where the beneficial owner of an investment into India is situated in or is a citizen of any such country, can invest only under the government route,” it stipulated. This was aimed at “curbing opportunistic takeovers/acquisitions of Indian companies due to the current Covid-19 pandemic.”

Prior government approval or clearance by the ministry of home affairs is required for investments in critical sectors including defence, satellites, mining, civil aviation, media, private security agencies and telecommunication.

The government will have to determine the security criteria and also look at it from the perspective of data theft, experts said.

“Security grounds could also refer to the activities of the company and how it treats data. The government will have to ensure that the data does not go into wrong hands,” said one of them.

A Delhi-based expert on investment issues said, “Security is a broad term and it might be difficult to determine it. Will the government go up the entire chain to check for beneficial ownership or look for links with the Chinese government or the military?”

DPIIT to seek govt nod for multi-modal logistics hub, industrial corridors

Source: Business Standard, Sept 21, 2020

New Delhi: The commerce and industry ministry would seek approval of the Union Cabinet for a multi-modal logistics hub at Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh and two industrial areas in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, according to the DPIIT.

These are part of various industrial corridor projects being developed by the government under the National Industrial Corridor programme, which is aimed at development of futuristic industrial cities in India.

As many as 11 such projects are being taken up and that include Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), Amritsar Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKIC), Chennai Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC), Bengaluru Mumbai Industrial Corridor (BMIC), and Hyderabad Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (HBIC).

According to the note of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), these projects are at different stages of implementation.

Under phase-1, few projects are approved and that include Dholera Special Investment Region under DMIC in Gujarat, Shendra Bidkin Industrial Area under DMIC in Maharashtra, and Integrated Industrial Township Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh (747.5 acres) under DMIC in Uttar Pradesh.

Integrated Multi-Modal Logistics Hub at Nangal Chaudhary in Haryana under the DMIC has been approved by the CCEA (cabinet committee on economic affairs) and implementation is likely to be initiated shortly, it said.

Under phase 2, projects are in the advanced stage of planning and implementation would be initiated by 2021.

“Krishnapatnam Industrial Area (2,500 acres) in Andhra Pradesh is approved by NICDIT (National Industrial Corridor Development and Implementation Trust (NICDIT) and approval from CCEA is being sought,” it added.

Similarly, Tumakuru Industrial Area (1,736 acres) in Karnataka under CBIC has been approved by NICDIT and approval from CCEA is being sought.

For Multi-Modal Logistics Hub and Multi-Modal Transport Hub (1,208 acres) at Greater Noida in UP under DMIC, NICDIT has accorded its approval and CCEA approval is being sought, it added.

It also said that as part of the DMIC, for Dighi Port Industrial Area (7,413 acres), activities pertaining to detailed master planning and preliminary engineering have been completed. “State government (s) have been urged to transfer land to the project SPVs for commencement of project development activities or identify land for conducting the feasibility studies as the case may be”.

India received $20 billion in FDI during COVID-19 pandemic: Harsh Shringla

Source: The Economic Times, Sept 15, 2020

India has received over USD 20 billion in FDI amid the coronavirus pandemicForeign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Tuesday, showcasing the country as one of the most attractive destinations for investment globally. In a virtual address at a CII event in the UK, the foreign secretary highlighted various structural reforms undertaken by India in even previously restricted sectors such as space, defence and atomic energy for greater private participation.

“The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched several historic reforms to improve the ease of doing business in India in the last six years. Today, India is one of the most open economies in the world. We have put in place a transparent and predictable tax regime,” he said.

Shringla talked extensively about implementation of various ambitious initiatives like, rolling out of Goods and Services Tax, the Aadhaar biometric project, “groundbreaking reforms” in the agriculture sector and creation of infrastructure for railways, ports and airports.

“The success of the reforms launched by the Government is evident in the numbers. Even during the pandemic, we have received over USD 20 billion of FDI this year. While the global FDI declined by one per cent in 2019, FDI into India rose by 20 per cent in the same period,” he said.

The foreign secretary said several global technology majors have announced significant investments in India including USD 10 billion by Google, USD 5 billion by Facebook and USD 1.2 billion by Mubadala – the UAE Sovereign Wealth Fund. Talking about India-UK economic partnership, he said the bilateral trade has been on an upward trajectory and touched 24 billion pounds in 2019 and that the country is the sixth largest investor in India with investments totalling USD 28.21 billion.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created severe economic challenges for both our countries. We can overcome these challenges by working together to create new opportunities for our business and industry,” said Shringla. He said under the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan’ or self reliant India campaign, India has rolled out a stimulus package for the economy of about USD 270 billion. The foreign secretary said research and development for vaccines for COVID-19 is a crucial area where there is potential for collaboration between India and the UK.
Serum Institute of India is already working with the Oxford University-Astrazeneca on their vaccine project. I talked about the role played by India’s pharmaceutical sector in meeting the global demand for essential medicines during the pandemic,” he said. “We are certain that our companies will play a similar role in the development of an affordable vaccine for COVID-19,” he added.

FDI inflow from China declines to USD 163.77 million in FY20: Anurag Thakur

Source: The Economic Times, Sept 14, 2020

New Delhi: There has been decline in foreign direct inflow from China in the last three years with FDI coming down to USD 163.77 million in 2019-20, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur informed Lok Sabha on Monday. Giving details of the total foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow from Chinese companies in India, he said, it was USD 350.22 million in 2017-18, while it declined to USD 229 million in the following year.

During 2019-20, FDI further came down to USD 163.77 million, he said in a written reply on the first day of the monsoon session.

With regard to outflow from India, he said, it was USD 20.63 million in calendar year 2020 as against USD 27.57 million in the corresponding period last year.

To curb opportunistic takeovers or acquisitions of Indian companies due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the government issued Press Note 3 earlier this year, he said.

“A non-resident entity can invest in India, subject to the FDI policy except in those sectors/activities which are prohibited. “However, an entity of a country, which shares land border with India or where the beneficial owner of an investment into India is situated in or is a citizen of any such country, can invest only under the government route,” he said quoting the Press Note 3.

Further, he said, “a citizen of Pakistan or an entity incorporated in Pakistan can invest, only under the government route, in sectors/activities other than defence, space, atomic energy and sectors/activities prohibited for foreign investment.”
Replying to another question, Thakur said, the Department of Expenditure has released the central share of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to the states including Maharashtra in the first week of April 2020 in the view of the pandemic.

Further, to provide additional resources to states to fight against COVID-19 and considering the request of the states for relaxation of the existing Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBM) limit of 3 per cent of gross state domestic product (GSDP), additional borrowing limit of up to 2 percent of GSDP has been allowed to states for the year 2020-21, he said.

Out of the additional borrowing limit of 2 per cent of GSDP allowed to states, consent of 0.50 per cent of GSDP amounting to Rs 1,06,830 crore has already been issued to the states including the consent of Rs 15,394 crore to the state of Maharashtra to raise open market borrowing (OMB) during the year 2020-21, he added.