The British Pound has plunged, the famously expensive London property market has crashed and thousands of highly skilled people have lost their jobs. According to London’s official marketing agency, all that is good news — for potential Indian investors.
“You can take advantage of the downturn to leverage new business opportunities,” Paul Bromelow, the global sales director of Think London, urged a group of Indian tech executives in Chennai on Wednesday. “But the window of opportunity won’t stay open forever…We’re estimating that it will last for another 12 to 18 months. So, the time to invest is now,” he said.
He pointed out that property rates in the West End area of London had fallen 38 per cent. “It’s best to get on the elevator now, when it’s at the lowest floor and ride it up as growth returns,” he said.
As a result of job losses spurred by the economic recession, the available talent pool is deeper and wider. “Many talented people who once commanded very high salaries are now available…We have 1.9 million highly skilled workers,” he said. He held that despite the crisis, London remained a global financial hub.
London’s infrastructure is excellent, and will only get better in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics, added British Deputy High Commissioner Mike Nithavrianakis.
In fact, the Olympics provides opportunities for Indian firms in two key areas: digital products and services and green technology. “There are still 35,000 contracts left to be awarded [for the Games],” said Mr. Bromelow.
Gowri Shankar Subramanian, chief executive of Chennai-based Aspire Systems, testified that London was an ideal location for Indian information technology firms looking to tap into the European market and diversify their U.S.-heavy client base. When his company recently established a branch in the U.K., it found that Think London’s help and advice was invaluable, he said.
Chennai’s IT sector is well-placed to expand even further, said K. Purushothaman, Nasscom’s regional director, pointing out that Tamil Nadu had seen 29 per cent growth in its software exports last year despite the global slowdown.