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Global sovereign, pension funds keen on investing: FM Arun Jaitley

File photo of Arun Jaitley

The first meeting of the governing council of National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) was held on Tuesday, wherein it was decided to appoint a chief executive officer for the fund by January-end and rope in several sovereign and pension funds to invest in it.

The fund will have a corpus of Rs 40,000 crore, out of which Rs 20,000 crore will be from the allocated amount in Budget, while Rs 20,000 crore will be from private investors.

In the meeting, possible infrastructure projects that could be taken up by the fund were discussed, finance minister Arun Jaitley said adding that sovereign funds and pension funds from UAE, Singapore, UK and Russia have shown interest to invest in NIIF.

“Several sovereign funds and pension funds across the world have expressed their willingness to participate and cooperate in various manners with the NIIF so the progress with regard to the suggestions which have come from UAE, Singapore, UK and Russia were discussed,” Jaitley told reporters after the meeting.

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Singapore’s GIC and Temasek are also likely to invest in the fund, a government official said. Jaitley said the NIIF governing council will meet again in March to review the progress of participation of each of the funds that are willing to invest.

The formalities regarding the setting up of the fund, including approval by market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), were also completed on Tuesday, the minister said.

“The initial appointment of the advisors to the fund, the registration with Sebi, wherever it is required — these are all formalities which have been completed and they were all reported in meeting today. An important step which is now being taken is the appointment of CEO of the fund, for which the position has been advertised both nationally and internationally and we hope that the selection process will be completed over the next few weeks,” he said.

Announced by Jaitley in the Budget for 2015-16 and cleared by the Cabinet in July, India’s own version of sovereign wealth fund, NIIF, will invest in greenfield, brownfield and stalled infrastructure projects.

India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd (IIFCL) has been appointed as investment advisor to NIIF and IDBI Capital Market Services Ltd as Advisor to NIIF Trustee Ltd initially for 6 months and 1 year respectively.

The governing council is being headed by Jaitley and its other members include Department of Economic Affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das, financial services secretary Anjuly Chib Duggal and State Bank of India chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya, among others. The finance ministry had in October constituted a search-cum-selection committee headed by Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das for selecting a CEO for the Investment Management Company under the NIIF.

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