London woos Indian businesses, investors

The Hindu |

07 December 2017

London is betting big to increase its efforts to attract Indian businesses and investors. It has opened a new overseas office in Bengaluru to strengthen trade and ease the process for Indian firms to set up or expand their operations in the U.K. capital.

Information technology giant Wipro on Wednesday said that it planned to expand its operations in London. It will open a new 13,000 sq.ft. there. This would be the company’s third such workplace in London, where it already has 1,800 employees.

The Bengaluru-based firm said the facility would help it to continue to bring new ways of working with digital clients. There would be a special emphasis on collaboration and co-creation between designers and software engineers “to incubate innovative and disruptive ideas alongside our clients,” said Rajan Kohli, senior vice-president and global head, Wipro Digital.

400 new jobs

Wipro joins a host of Indian tech firms to make significant investments in London. The Mayor of London’s promotional agency, London & Partners, said that Indian tech businesses were set to create more than 400 new jobs in London this year. “London and Bengaluru are hotbeds for innovation and creativity,” said David Slater, director of international trade and investment at London & Partners.

He added that the fundamental strengths that had made London a leading global destination for Indian businesses had not changed following the EU referendum vote.

On the impact of Brexit, Mr. Slater said that top tech companies like Apple, Facebook, Amazon and “now Wipro.. all of these have large investments in the U.K.”

“As the Brexit negotiations continue, it’s never been more important for London to reach out across the globe,” said Arbinder Chatwal, director and head of India advisory services at accounting firm BDO. “London is a natural home for Indian businesses,” he said.

From 2005 to 2016, the U.K. was the second largest destination for Indian foreign direct investment (behind only the U.S.) – attracting 350 projects (9.6% of all of India’s FDI projects) that invested £9.2 billion and created 41,100 jobs. “We believe in India. It is one of the strongest and fastest-growing economies. And U.K wants stronger, wider and deeper relationship with India,” said Dominic McAllister, British Deputy High Commissioner in Bengaluru.

The country remains the second biggest foreign investor into London, with Indian firms creating more than 4,500 jobs in London over the last 10 years – more than China, Japan and second only to the United States. Technology is the leading sector for investment from India into London, representing almost half (47%) of all investment projects in the past ten years, according to London & Partners investment data.

To scale up trade, eighteen of London’s fastest growing technology businesses will join business leaders in Bengaluru to explore investment and export opportunities in India. Led by the Mayor’s International Business programme, the companies will meet with leading Indian investors and entrepreneurs. These include Spotify, the world's largest paid music streaming service, and Baby2Body, an online platform, which provides advice for new and expectant mothers. The trade mission also includes Winnow, a tech company which helps chefs measure, monitor and reduce kitchen food waste. Winnow on Wednesday also announced a partnership with sustainability firm Diversey, to fight food waste in the Indian hospitality sector. These firms would also visit some of Bengaluru’s most well-known technology firms such as Infosys and Wipro.