SREI, Russia’s Vnesheconombank to create $200 mn IT fund
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SREI Infrastructure has signed a pact with Russia’s state development institution Vnesheconombank to set up a $200 million IT and innovation fund, it said in a statement.

The fund will promote cooperation between India and Russia in the fields of technology and innovation. The fund also aims to find technology opportunities in other select regions, it said.

The move is part of Vnesheconombank’s efforts to stimulate investment activity in Russia and enhance the competitiveness of its economy, the statement said.

“The fund will serve as a two-way bridge between Indian and Russian markets and create opportunities for cross- border technology cooperation between the two countries,” said Hemant Kanoria, chairman and managing director, SREI.

The fund will be managed by SREI Alternative Investment Managers Ltd, according to a SREI spokesperson.

While the fund has not identified regions outside India and Russia yet, it will not be constrained to explore investment opportunities outside the two countries, said the spokesperson.

“SREI is one of India's largest infrastructure institutions. Through our asset management business, we are always exploring opportunities to invest in sectors that have high growth potential. We believe the technology companies in India and Russia have huge potential,” the spokesperson said.

Last week, Kanoria told Reuters that SREI is signing a $500 million joint venture agreement with Russian state lender VEB to finance import of equipment to India.

SREI is one of India's largest integrated infrastructure companies with around $5.5 billion of assets under its management. It is focussed on businesses including infrastructure finance, advisory and development, infrastructure equipment finance, alternative investment funds, capital markets and insurance broking.

This is not the first time a Russian group is seeking to invest in Indian technology companies.

In February 2016, Russian conglomerate Sistema JFSC said it is launching a $50 million startup fund to invest in the technology and niche consumer retail sectors. Later, the fund said it would look at launching another fund by the end of 2017 to make additional investments.

Conglomerates often use VC funds to enhance their competitiveness and pick investments that will add value to their long-term strategy. For instance, Fosun Kinzon makes investments that are strategically important for Fosun Group. Drugmaker Cipla also funds startups to keep itself updated on new technology and innovations.

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