Singapore businesses' interest in India growing

PM Lee at a light-up ceremony at Celebration Mall in Udaipur, India, yesterday. With him are CapitaLand group chief executive Lim Ming Yan (second from right) and CapitaLand Malls Asia's India country head B.V. Bharadwaja (right). CapitaLand yesterda
PM Lee at a light-up ceremony at Celebration Mall in Udaipur, India, yesterday. With him are CapitaLand group chief executive Lim Ming Yan (second from right) and CapitaLand Malls Asia's India country head B.V. Bharadwaja (right). CapitaLand yesterday announced plans to open two more malls in India by 2019.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

In a part of India known for its grand palaces and glittering lakes stands something distinctly Singaporean - a shopping centre with a Singapore-style foodcourt and a range of international brands including McDonald's, Domino's Pizza and Subway.

The Celebration Mall, located in tourist hot spot Udaipur in the north-western state of Rajasthan, is a symbol of the growing interest of Singapore's businesses in India.

Developed by CapitaLand, it was Udaipur’s first standalone mall when it was launched in 2011. It is one of four malls in India owned and managed by a Singapore developer. The others are in Bangalore, Mangalore and Hyderabad.

Yesterday, CapitaLand announced plans to open two more malls in India by 2019. The developer's The Ascott business unit, which manages serviced residences, has also signed a deal with Sandhya Hotels to manage three new serviced residences in India.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited Celebration Mall yesterday evening after bad weather delayed his arrival in Udaipur. He was scheduled to fly into the city in the afternoon, but 10 minutes away from Udaipur, poor visibility forced his plane to turn back to New Delhi. "Sometimes Mother Nature has her own plans," Mr Lee said in a Facebook post while waiting in New Delhi for the weather to clear.

Foreign direct investment from Singapore to India has risen in recent years, from $2.6 billion in 2006 to $19.4 billion in 2014.

PM Lee said at a joint press conference with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday that these investment flows should be facilitated. Mr Modi said trade and investment ties form the bedrock of the bilateral relationship, and a bilateral agreement on intellectual property signed on Tuesday would facilitate business-to-business ties.

A Singapore Business Federation delegation is also in India this week.

PM Lee called on Indian President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi yesterday, and is scheduled to open a tourism skills training centre in Udaipur today.

India is also looking to build 100 Smart Cities, and a consortium comprising Ascendas-Singbridge and SembCorp Development is bidding to be master developer for Andhra Pradesh's new capital Amaravati.

"Singapore cannot do a hundred Smart Cities, but we hope to help develop one - Amaravati," Mr Lee said.

Correction Note: An earlier version of this article stated that three other malls in India were fully owned and managed by CapitaLand. That is incorrect. We are sorry for the error. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore businesses' interest in India growing'. Print Edition | Subscribe