While the Gulf Diaspora is abuzz with trepidation about the new trend of protectionist labor-laws turning into a torrent with Saudi Arabia taking a lead with the “Nitaqat” program triggering fears of reverse migration, investments from the Gulf are flowing into India, with the GCC countries showing an increased appetite for acquiring Indian assets. The UAE’s Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airways’ proposing to invest US$ 379 million in India’s Jet Airways illustrates this growing appetite of Middle Eastern companies for Indian assets. While sovereign/private equity funds from the region already do have a significant exposure to Indian firms, it is only now that several Middle Eastern companies are escalating their India mergers & acquisitions plays. Qatar’s Hassad Foods acquired a majority stake in Basmati rice seller Bush Foods barely a month ago, while Saudi Arabia’s largest supplier of air conditioners Zamil quietly took full management control of Advantec, an OEM for brands like Carrier, Voltas and Videocon. Investment bankers are of the view that Arab companies are showing a marked interest for assets in the infrastructure and logistics domains. Dubai Ports World, the largest foreign port operator in India, is also apparently scouting for investment opportunities in container terminal space.

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