Arun Jaitley seeks Japanese investments; meets SoftBank CEO Son

Tokyo - Seeking to woo investors from Asia's second biggest economy, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday began his six-day Japan visit as he met Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Japanese telecom giant SoftBank Group, which is eyeing "one of the biggest" investments in solar power sector in India.

Jaitley said many investors including SoftBank are keen to invest in infrastructure sector to be part of the Indian growth story.

"There are people who want to participate in infrastructure growth story. For example, SoftBank meeting we just had, they are looking at one of the biggest investments in solar power already," he said after meeting Son.

In June last year, SoftBank announced it was forming a joint venture with Bharti Enterprises and Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group to invest about $20 billion in renewable energy in India. The joint venture would aim to generate 20 gigawatts of electricity.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters

"They have made considerable headway and have identified location. It will probably be one of the largest investment in those areas," Jaitley said.

The Japanese telecom and Internet giant has made a string of tech investments in India, investing $2 billion in the past two years. SoftBank is looking at accelerating the pace of investments in the future.

"India has a great future...we are interested in investing for Internet companies also for solar energy. We would make a strong commitment," Son said.

Son had previously said that India's market is poised for massive growth, making it an important destination for investors.

SoftBank has in the past two years made a string of tech investments in India, including $627 million in online-retailing marketplace Snapdeal and leading a $210 million funding round in taxi-hailing app Ola Cabs.

It paid $200 million for a 35 percent stake in InMobi, an Indian mobile-advertising network, starting in 2011. SoftBank also has a joint venture with Bharti Group, Bharti SoftBank, the investments of which include the mobile
application Hike Messenger.

Its other investments include real estate website, hotel-booking app Oyo Rooms and Grofers.

Son had previously predicted that India's e-commerce industry would become a $500 billion business in the next 10 years.

SoftBank, which owns one of Japan's biggest mobile carriers and a controlling stake in US-based Sprint Corp, has been moving quickly to expand its Internet and media holdings.

As the largest shareholder in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the Chinese e-commerce company, SoftBank has ample resources to deploy for acquisitions.
During the visit, Jaitley will also call on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Meeting with Abe is planned for Monday when he will also attend the 22nd International Conference on 'The Future of Asia' organised by Nikkei Inc.

Jaitley, on 31 May, will meet Osamu Suzuki, Chairman of Suzuki Motor, the biggest Japanese investor in automobile sector in India.

On 31 May, he would also participate in 'The Future of Asia' conference and in the afternoon he will deliver keynote address at the roundtable on National Investment & Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).

The government is looking at attracting investors to the Rs 40,000-crore NIIF, which is an investment vehicle for funding commercially viable greenfield, brown-field and stalled projects. It will have 49 percent holding in NIIF and the rest will be of private investors.

Updated Date: May 30, 2016 08:25 AM

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