London mayor Sadiq Khan reached out to leading Indian firms, the second biggest foreign investors in London who employ around 50,000 people, to reassure them that the British capital remains “open” for business amid concerns arising out of uncertainty post Brexit.
Khan hosted a meeting at his City Hall office by the river Thames on Wednesday (12) with 17 companies already working with London, including the Tata Group, Infosys, Wipro, ZEE TV, ICICI Bank, among others, to discuss expanding their links with London after Britain’s decision to leave the EU.
“London is open for investment and business from around the globe and the city already has an excellent trading relationship with India,” the 46-year-old said.
“I met with leading Indian businesses to reassure them that our great city remains open to the best global talent, and to discuss how we can strengthen and support further investment in London,” Khan added.
The meeting was chaired by Khan’s deputy mayor for business and enterprise, Rajesh Agrawal who was born and raised in Indore, India, and arrived in London in 2001 as a tech specialist.
Just three years later, he and a business partner, Paresh Davdra set up RationalFX, a currency and money wire transfer service. It grew rapidly as a new entrant with low fees, high levels of service and low overheads.
Over the last ten years, London has attracted more foreign direct investment from India than Japan and China and only the US invests more in the capital according to data from the Mayor’s promotional company, London & Partners. India is also a crucial trading partner for London and a significant market for the capital’s businesses, with the value of London exports to India amounting to £1.29bn in 2014.
Among the participants was Shuchita Sonalika, UK Country Head and Director of the Confederation of Indian Industry. She said nearly 40 per cent of the fastest-growing Indian companies investing in the UK are based in London, highlighting that London has been the destination of choice for Indian investment.
“Their diverse operations range from IT, financial services, media and entertainment, tourism and others,” she said.
“We hope that London will continue to be an attractive place to do business and their interests will be fortified post-Brexit. This interaction of Indian companies with Mayor Sadiq Khan is testament to that effort and CII looks forward to working with the Mayor’s team to deepen business links between India and London,” she added.
There is uncertainty over what Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in a referendum in June would mean for foreign businesses.
Kevin McCole, Chief Operating Officer of the UK Business India Council (UKIBC), said: “Indian business contributes hugely to London, and London businesses contribute hugely to India. So, at this time of uncertainty due to Brexit, the UK India Business Council is delighted that the Mayor and his Deputy have taken the time to hear the views of Indian businesses in London, and, quite rightly, to remind them that London is open for business.”
To further strengthen business links between London and India, London & Partners has opened applications for the next round of its India Emerging 20 (IE20) initiative, a programme to discover some of India’s most innovative and high growth companies with global aspirations.