Changes in FDI Norms: Harm to investors from China or to Unicorn Startups Of India?

The government of India brought in a lot of changes in the FDI norms. This was done keeping in mind the nation's condition amidst the global pandemic. The main aim was to prevent foreign companies from opportunistic take overs of Indian firms.

The recent investments made their point on curbing Chinese investments in Indian Firms. As per the new FDI norm any country that shares a land border with India will no longer be able to use the automatic route in the FDI. The companies who would like to invest must seek government's clearance over any investment proposal.

The changes were brought in late April earlier this year. The main aim was to stop Chinese Investors from   their predatory behavior. These rules would be applied on countries such as Bhutan, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Afghanistan. But there is a very small flow of investments from these countries. So, this is evident that the norms are to keep an eye on China for any signs of exploitative behavior.

All this was not done on any sudden decision. The reason behind all this is form the year 2015. Since 2015 China has increased its investment in India. This looks like a very strategic move. According to a report by the DPIIT, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade. The total amount of FDI that has flown from China to India is around $1.8 Billion. All this within a 2015-2019. In the year  2015 itself there was an investment of total $494.75 million.


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The industry that has particularly caught the eye of the Chinese investor is the Indian Automobile Industry. Between the same period that is from 2015-2019. The automobile Industry has seen a total investment of $876.30 million. The electrical equipment manufacturing along with the book printing sectors have also seen a hug inflow. All this FDI flow confirms the foothold of Chinese investors in the nation.

Yearly FDI Inflows (in USD Million)
Yearly FDI Inflows (in USD Million)

The companies that would be affected the most would be the companies like BigBasket, Paytm and Ola. These companies are just collateral damages of the governments new rules to protect minor companies. The online Grocery vendor Gofers along with the digital payment app and OLA have  received millions of dollars as investment from Chinese Investors.

The new norms would effect the fresh funds that were supposed to role in.

“The new FDI guidelines essentially imply Chinese capital would require prior government approval. In effect, given the uncertainty around approval, startups will shy away from Chinese capital. In the immediate future, this could impact PhonePe and potentially Paytm at a later date," said Ashneer Grover, CEO and co-founder, BharatPe

According to a report by the Think Tank Gateway House a total of $4 Billion has been invested in Indian startups by the Chinese tech investors. Another report said that 18 of India's 30 Unicorn Startups are funded by Chinese Investors.

Companies having Chinese Investments are:

Chinese Investors Indian Startups
Tencent Byju's,Ola,Dream11,Flipkart,Hike
Alibaba Paytm,BigBasket,Snapdeal,Zomato
Xiaomi Hungama, Sharechat, Rapido

BigBasket the online grocery store got a $50 million funding from Alibaba. This investment rolled in when the company was facing its own share of problems in the lockdown. But these new FDI norms would hit the company. BigBasket would face troubles for its capital infusions with Alibaba. BigBasket would now have to search other places to reach its requirements on the basis of investments.


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Paytm raised a huge sum of $1 Billion from the Soft Bank in Japan and from Ant Financial from Alibaba. Paytm faces tough competition from Google and PhonePe(owned by Walmart). To fight these competitors Paytm has to be always on the edge of innovation . But the company would face a major fallback after the new norms. Alibaba is the largest share holder in the company. This would indeed affect the digital payments platform.

Alibaba's Ant Financial has been an investor in Zomato since the year 2018. Ant Financial invested $210 million in the food delivery app. It go a stake of 14.7%. By this Ant Financial became the company's Largest investor. This stake was raised to 23%. According to news reports this was going to be increased earlier this year. But between that the Indian government revised its FDI norms.  

18 of the 30 Unicorn Startups who are funded by Chinese Investors would face a lot of troubles. The move of making changes in the FDI norms is to hurt the Chinese Investors. But this would hurt the unicorn startups. This move has put many jobs on risk.

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About Abhishek Gupta

I am someone who likes to code and hence writing is something that I love a lot. Brought up great with all the morals pre-installed.
  • Kolkata
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