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Indian conglomerate Sahara to invest $100m in Bangladesh initially

Publication Date : 26-05-2012


Indian conglomerate Sahara India Pariwar wants to initially invest more than US$100 million in Bangladesh, its Chairman Subrata Roy Sahara said yesterday.

"Our investment here will start with $100 to $125 million for one project. More investment will come with the work proceeding," Roy said at a press conference at a hotel in in Bangladesh capital, Dhaka.

Yesterday, Sahara launched its first ever company in Bangladesh named "Sahara Matribhumi Unnayan Corporation Limited".

Roy, who came to Dhaka on Tuesday on his first trip here, said they have plans to invest in around 10 projects here.

He said the conglomerate is keen to build Sahara's first project “New Dhaka” around the capital with all modern amenities. Sahara has sought 1 lakh acre free land from the government to implement the project under which they will sell apartments.

“We visited two places yesterday [Thursday]. One is beside an under-construction 300-feet road, around 25 kilometres off the city [near Purbachal], and another near Sunvalley Housing [at the eastern part of Dhaka],” he told The Daily Star after the press meet.

Earlier, Subrata Roy told journalists, "Six months back, in our proposal to the Bangladesh government we asked for land [for the housing project]. We will build all infrastructures there. The government does not even need to invest since we will put all the money in."

"We have talked about the proposal with the prime minister. It is now under consideration," he said.

Asked what would be the company's stance if environmentalists express concern over the housing project, he said, “If we find any allegation to be genuine, Sahara is always ready to address it.”

He said the newly formed company, Sahara Matribhumi Unnayan Corporation Limited, will look after Sahara's business in Bangladesh. Registration process of the firm is underway.

Sheikh Fazle Hossain Fahim, nephew of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has been made its director. "Fahim will be our guide here and act as a mentor," Roy said.

About the housing project, he said they would not build any concrete jungle; rather they would provide the people with a “complete lifestyle”.

"In Dhaka, only houses have been built, not lifestyle. Everyone bought lands and built vertical buildings, thus turning it into a concrete jungle."

He also said they want to work with the people who are involved in the housing sector. "We'll complement but not compete with the existing businesses. We want to work together."

The Sahara chairman said during his three-day visit he had several meetings with the top officials of Bangladesh Bank and Board of Investment (BoI) and placed a number of investment proposals for at least 10 sectors in Bangladesh.

So far, total investment in Bangladesh by different Indian investors is only $600 million, said the Indian business tycoon.

Roy said they also have plans to invest outside Dhaka. Sahara group is also keen to invest in Bangladesh's tourism sector and also shared a plan for taking up a project in the Sundarbans, he added.

Sharing his bitter experience of a proposed tourism project with the West Bengal government in the Sundarbans, he said it was stalled because of the outcry of the environmentalists.

“That project can be initiated here as the larger part of the Sundarbans falls in Bangladesh,” he said, adding that a proposal on this issue was submitted to the government on Thursday.

 Roy said they are interested to do something for Bangladesh cricket too.

"The Sahara logo has been on the jersey of Indian cricket team for the last 10 to 12 years. I am not announcing but it may be possible to see the same logo on the jersey of Bangladesh cricket team too."

Asked about the reason behind coming to Bangladesh, Roy said, “After India, this is the land which seems to me as my land. Doing business is not the lone reason for coming here. I have an emotional attachment with this country as my maternal root is from Bikrampur of Bangladesh.”

Besides that, he said, the country made a tremendous progress and “there are many things to do for this country”.

Asked about Sahara's investing in the pretext of Bangladesh's current political turmoil, he said, "We want to work here. But if we are treated with suspicion…we will loose spirit.”


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