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India may open insurance market

NEW DELHI (Bloomberg) India aims to raise the limit on foreign direct investment in insurance industry to attract companies in the $41 billion market, according to Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the nation's Planning Commission.

“I am hopeful it will done for insurance,” Montek Singh Ahluwalia said yesterday without specifying a timeframe. Allowing overseas investment in multi-brand retailing is also being examined, he said in New Delhi.

India's plan to raise the foreign direct investment cap in insurance to 49 percent from 26 percent has been stuck in parliament for three years because of a lack of consensus among political parties. French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said at the same event yesterday that investments from the European nation may rise if India further opens up the retail and insurance industries.

Allianz SE, Aviva Plc and ING Groep NV are among the global insurers that will be able to invest in their Indian ventures if the limit is raised in an industry that the Life Insurance Council forecasts is expanding 34 percent annually.

In retail, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. the world's largest retailer, and rivals including Carrefour SA and Tesco Plc are pushing India's government to allow foreign investment after the trade ministry invited views from the industry on removing the restriction.

Wal-Mart chief executive officer Michael Duke said in October that he is “optimistic” overseas companies will be allowed to invest in India's retail industry. A discussion paper by the government in July said that allowing foreign investment in retail will lower prices and benefit farmers.

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Published December 07, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 09, 2010 at 2:34 pm)

India may open insurance market

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