Tata leads way as Indian firms turn predators abroad

NEW DELHI, Oct 8, 2006 (AFP) – India’s giant Tata group is leading the way as cash-flush companies go on an overseas buying spree, racing to acquire a global footprint. Earlier this year, the hotels-to-steel conglomerate bought a 30 percent stake in New York-based Energy Brands Inc, which makes flavoured waters for 677 million dollars, India’s biggest cross-border acquisition so far.

Now India’s largest private sector group with 22 billion dollars in annual sales is eyeing a far bigger prize.

Last Thursday it said it was considering a bid for top British steelmaker Corus group that analysts have valued at up to 10.4 billion dollars.

The combined group would be among the top ten global steel industry players in output terms.

Indian “companies now have the financial muscle and operational skills to make these sorts of acquisitions,” said Anjan Roy, economic advisor to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

“They are going out and grabbing companies,” he said.

India’s outbound investment could even top inbound foreign direct investment (FDI), according to figures from British data provider Dealogic.

Outbound investments from