Prem Watsa, the billionaire chairman of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, has proposed to invest a further $5 billion (approximately Rs 36,158.50 crore at current exchange rates) in India in the next five years, according to an interview with The Economic Times.
Watsa said his company has already invested $5 billion in the country in the preceding five years.
He said the Fairfax was also open to participating in the Indian government’s plans for divestment and monetising its assets. “India contributes nearly 3% of the world’s GDP but has only a 1% share of global investment money. If this figure were to just double to 2%, that would mean nearly $3 trillion of investments flowing into India,” he added.
Economic growth in the country can touch the 10% mark, he said, adding that he was also positive about the lending business despite the ongoing liquidity crunch for non-banking financial companies.
Toronto-headquartered Fairfax, which was founded in 1985, employs over 3.5 lakh people across its portfolio companies in India. It invests in sectors such as travel, transportation, infrastructure and banking, among others.
In August, VCCircle reported that the Watsa-controlled Fairfax was sitting on stellar returns in the Kerala-based CSB Bank Ltd as it prepared to go public. The draft red herring prospectus filed by the company showed that Fairfax had invested around Rs 1,207.68 crore in it. Fairfax, which acquired a 51% stake in CSB last year, will not sell any shares in the proposed IPO.
In March, the investment firm picked up a significant minority stake in Seven Islands Shipping Ltd for Rs 500 crore (around $72 million). The deal involved a fresh issue of shares and a secondary acquisition of shares cumulating to 41.4% of Seven Islands, Fairfax India had said in a statement at the time.
The Hyderabad-born Watsa started Fairfax India in November 2014. In January 2015, Fairfax India floated a public offering in Canada to raise $1.06 billion. It later topped up its corpus with $500 million more. Apart from CSB and Seven Islands, the firm also owns stakes in Bengaluru International Airport, Thomas Cook India, Quess Corp. and Fairchem Specialty, among others.