$100 mn Oman India investment fund to be launched soon

By Venkatachari Jagannathan, IANS,

Chennai : A $100 million Oman India fund that will invest in various sectors in both countries is expected to be launched shortly. Oman is looking forward to invest in India’s small and medium enterprises.

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“The joint investment fund whose corpus will be contributed equally by both countries will be launched soon,” Oman’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Maqbool Ali Sultan told IANS while he was here for a trade summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry.

In November 2008, India’s largest commercial bank State Bank of India (SBI) and Oman’s State General Reserve Fund (SFRF) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote a joint investment fund with a $100 million corpus to be contributed equally.

The Oman India Fund is the first such fund to be set up by India in partnership with another country. It is to invest in infrastructure, tourism, health, telecom and real estate sectors promoted by the private sector in both countries.

The fund size can be increased to $1.5 billion through debt or by accepting new partners.

The MoU is valid for two years from the date of signing and can be extended by mutual consent of the two parties.

“Seventy five percent of Omanese exports comprise of oil and the balance fertilisers and minerals,” he said. The non-oil products are exported to GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries and other Arab nations.

According to Sultan, bilateral trade between Oman and India is in the region of $2.5 billion and it is healthy. The bulk of Oman’s exports to India are oil, gas and fertilisers.

The product basket is getting expanded now with Indian companies importing limestone, chrome and copper.

Citing the presence of several big Indian companies like Larsen and Toubro, Brakes India, Bank of India and others in Oman, Sultan said the focus is on inviting small and medium enterprises (SME) to enter into joint ventures with local companies in the fields of information technology, energy and research and development.

Over 100 Indian companies operate in Oman while over 30 Oman companies are present in India.

The Oman India Fertiliser Company based in Oman is a three way joint venture between Oman Oil Company (owning 50 percent stake) and the balance shared equally between Indian Farmers Fertilisers Cooperative Ltd and Krishak Bharati Cooperative Ltd.

In India Oman Oil Company has invested in the Bharat Oman Refineries Ltd that is promoting the six million tonne refinery at Bina in Madhya Pradesh.