Sovereign Wealth Funds are state-owned investment funds commonly established with revenues generated from trade surpluses, central bank reserves, currency operations, privatisations and transfer payments. Between 2008 -18, global Assets Under Management (AUM) of SWFs grew at a CAGR of 10% with Asia garnering the highest share (42%).
“Sovereign wealth funds have been playing a pivotal role in investments globally with estimated AUM of 8.1 trillion as of 2019. Investments by SWFs in India improved sharply as a result of various policy measures introduced to attract foreign investments. The Union Budget for 2020 has further incentivized SWFs to invest in infrastructure including affordable housing and warehousing by providing tax exemptions. The rise in potential returns is expected to drive more SWF investments in India. SWFs would be more inclined to use the direct investment route as compared to investment platforms,” said Ramesh Nair, CEO and Country Head, JLL India.
India emerging as the favourite destination for SWFs
Investments by SWFs improved sharply as various policy measures were introduced to attract foreign investments. In India, SWFs hold USD 29 billion of Assets Under Custody (AUC) as of December 2019. Of these, real estate and warehousing account for 22% of the AUC, amounting to USD 6.6 billion.
“SWF Investments quadrupled to USD 5.3 billion during 2014-19 from USD 1.3 billion recorded between 2005 and 2013, due to various reforms introduced in the Real estate sector. Going forward we expect more traction from this type of patient capital,’ said Dr Samantak Das, Chief Economist and ED, JLL India.
The Union Budget for 2020 further incentivizes SWFs to invest in infrastructure by providing them a 100% tax exemption on interest, dividend and capital gains income in respect of investment made in infrastructure and other notified sectors before 31st March, 2024 with a minimum lock-in period of 3 years.
The resultant increase in potential returns is expected to boost investments by SWFs in affordable housing and logistics & warehousing which have been accorded infrastructure status.