The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry has, for the first time, picked up a stake in a company -- Skills Development Corporation set up by Government of India.
Ficci Secretary-General Amit Mitra, on an official visit to London as part of a trade delegation, said this new not-for-profit organisation had been set up to improve the availability of skilled manpower in India and Ficci had picked a 10 per cent stake in this company for Rs 51 lakh (Rs 510,000).
The Skills Development Corporation itself is empowered with a corpus of Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion). A Ficci representative will also be on the board of this company.
Further, Ficci has also been authorised by the ministry of labour to be an official testing centre for students coming out of ITIs. "In the last three months, nearly 12,000 people have taken tests at Ficci with a stringent pass rate of 25 per cent," Mitra said. Tests are conducted in several areas like carpentry, metal working and welding, he said.
Meanwhile, the visiting Ficci delegation met the UK-based Commonwealth Business Council and has agreed to form a 'clearing house' kind of institution to aggregate and disseminate information on companies in India and the UK that are keen on possible mergers and acquisitions.
Without specifying a time frame to get this idea rolling, Mitra said that a working group within Ficci would be formed to enable this at the earliest. The idea is to increase capital flows between India and the UK and also allow small and medium sized technology driven companies to find a big market like India.
A 17-member delegation from Ficci headed by its president, Harsh Pati Singhania, was in the UK on a two-day visit ending on June 10 to understand the ways and means to improve trade relations between the two countries. The delegation included CEOs from sectors such as pharmaceuticals, mining, cement, FMCG, energy and information technology.
"We are trying to see how we can increase M&A between India and the UK and make a list of potential acquisitions and joint ventures that are possible in both countries," said Mitra.
Singhania said that while large acquisitions in the UK by Indian groups like the Tatas are well known, several small and medium sized companies in the UK had also been acquired by Indian companies.
"While most other countries are looking at China, the UK is clearly re-focusing on India. Particularly, tech-centric companies will find a large market in India by doing this," said Singhania.
Ficci members also met with representatives of the Nuclear Industry Association for possible civil nuclear energy collaboration between India and the UK, particularly in the manufacturing sector.