Azim Premji Gets RBI Nod To Invest in Global IT Cos

by CXOtoday News Desk    Jun 04, 2014

azim premji

Premji Invest, the family office of Wipro founder Azim Premji, will now invest in technology companies in the US and China after receiving RBI’s approval to do so, according to an ET report. With a corpus of over Rs 10,000 Crore, the office may set aside nearly a quarter of it for making investments overseas, a source revealed to the news site.

Getting the RBI approval to invest abroad is a challenging task and also a cumbersome one for typically family offices. There are around 40-50 family offices in India with revenues of $15-20 billion (about Rs 88,000 crore to Rs 1.2 lakh crore), according to industry estimates. According to RBI, resident Indians can buy assets overseas including shares or debt instruments up to $75,000 (about Rs 45 lakh) per year. As a family office is not an entity, each individual family member can avail of this limit. However if the family office is structured as a company it can invest 50% of its networth in overseas assets, explains the report. 

As part of its plans, Premji Invest has reportedly hired Sandesh Patnam, a San Francisco-based investor to lead the technology practice. Based on Patnam’s LinkedIn profile, he managed over $6 billion (about Rs 36,000 crore) in investments during his last assignment at Seligman Technology Group, before joining Premji Invest in March.

“An office in the US will expose Premji Invest to opportunities of a different scale and potentially be far more rewarding too,” the source revealed, adding that Premji has been experimenting with the idea of investing overseas for few years now.

In 2011 Premji invested around $15 million in Vinod Khosla’s clean-tech fund in the US. Until now, Premji Invest has backed over 60 companies, including the recent investments in e-commerce  companies such as Snapdeal and Myntra.

Analysts opine that Premji Invest should focus on early-stage investments in India and growth-stage opportunities in the US in order to enable a successful venture. According to them by opening an office in the United States Premji Invest can attempt to raise the profile and participate actively in exploring funding opportunities across promising startups working in the areas of emerging technologies such as mobile, analytics and cloud.