Can A Foreign Company Invest in Indian Company? – Latest Guide 2024

Foreign companies are actively pursuing investment opportunities in India. India’s expanding economy, ample natural resources, and talented & cost effective labor have drawn global attention. Investing in Indian companies can give significant returns which make it an attractive option for foreign companies seeking growth and profitability. In this article we will find out that can a foreign company invest in Indian company? If yes then how and the important considerations related to this topic.

Can A Foreign Company Invest in Indian Company? – Latest Guide 2024

Table of Contents

What is Foreign Company?

According to Section 2(42) of the Companies Act 2013, a foreign company is one that is incorporated outside India but has a presence in India. This presence can be physical or electronic, either through its own office or through an agent in India. Also if a company conducts any business activity in India, it is also considered a foreign company as per this section.

Can a Foreign Company Invest in Indian Company?

Yes, investing in Indian businesses as a foreign company comes with specific regulations. The Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA, 1999) governs this area, with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce closely monitoring these foreign investments. Most sectors in India allow foreign company investment through 2 routes:
  1. Automatic Route: Foreign companies can invest in certain sectors without prior government or RBI approval, provided they meet specific conditions.
  2. Government Approval Route: This route requires approval from the government for investments in certain sectors or cases where the automatic route conditions are not met.

Which Foreign Institutions can Invest in India?

When it comes to foreign companies investing in Indian businesses, there are several eligible institutions you should know about:

  • NRI (Non-Resident Indians): NRI can also invest in India by trading shares and convertible debentures through registered stockbrokers on recognized stock exchanges.
  • FII (Foreign Institutional Investors): These are organizations based abroad that are interested in investing in Indian securities.
  • QFI (Qualified Foreign Investors): QFIs are individuals and organizations affiliated with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). They are allowed to invest in mutual funds, equity shares, and government bond or corporate bonds.
  • Foreign Venture Capital Investors: These investors can invest their money into domestic venture capital funds or venture capital undertakings within India.

So, if you are looking for a question that can a foreign company invest in an Indian company? then yes and the above persons can invest in India.

In Which Sector Foreign Investment is allowed in India?

Foreign Companies can invest in the following sectors of India:

  • Manufacturing: Foreign companies can invest 100% in most manufacturing industries without prior approval.
  • Services: This includes sectors like telecommunications, information technology, tourism, and healthcare. The ownership rules for foreign investors differ across these sectors.
  • Retail: Single-brand stores can have full foreign ownership, while multi-brand stores allow up to 51% with government approval.
  • Infrastructure: Foreign investments are allowed in construction, airports, and highways subject to certain conditions.
  • Renewable Energy: Foreign companies can invest 100% in renewable energy projects without prior approval.

There are some sectors where foreign investment is prohibited like atomic energy, lottery business, and gambling.

What are the Routes for Investment by Foreign Companies in India?

Foreign companies have multiple routes to invest in Indian companies depending on the industry and investment type. Here is the details of those routes:

  • Joint Ventures: Foreign companies can collaborate with Indian partners to form joint ventures to combine the resources, market knowledge and expertise.
  • Equity Participation: Foreign companies can buy shares in an existing Indian company or start a wholly owned subsidiary in India.
  • Mergers and Acquisitions: Foreign companies can acquire or merge with existing Indian companies subject to approvals and regulations.
  • Foreign Portfolio Investment: Foreign companies can invest in Indian companies listed on the stock exchange through foreign portfolio investments subject to certain limits and regulations.

Compliance and Approvals for Foreign Investors

Depending on the investment routes and sectors, the foreign companies may need to obtain specific regulatory approvals and comply with relevant requirements. These approvals and compliances are as follows:

  • RBI Approval: Sometimes, foreign companies may need approval from RBI, especially for activities such as issuing or transferring shares.
  • Sector-wise Approvals: Certain industries like defense, media, and telecommunications, may require additional approvals from the relevant ministries or regulatory bodies.
  • Competition Commission of India (CCI) Approval: If the investment or merger exceeds certain thresholds, CCI approval may be required under competition law.
  • Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB): Although FIPB has been abolished, some old cases may still require its approval.
  • Tax Compliance: Foreign companies must also comply with Indian tax laws like income tax, transfer pricing, and GST.
  • Environmental and Labor Law Compliance: Foreign companies operating in India must comply with the environmental and labor laws.

Challenges Faced by Foreign Investors in India

Investment by foreign companies in India faces the challenges that can affect their operations and expansion. These challenges include:

  • Cultural & Language Barriers: Adjusting to diverse culture and languages of India can be challenging for foreign businesses. Understanding local customs, business practices, and communication styles is important for smooth operations.
  • Regulatory Complexities: India has many rules and regulations governing business operations that challenges foreign companies, resulting in increased costs and delays due to the need to comply with various rules and regulations.
  • Infrastructure Limitations: India’s infrastructure especially transportation, logistics, and electricity, can increase costs and cause delays and inefficiencies for foreign businesses.
  • IPR Protection: Foreign companies may have concerns about the lack of strong intellectual property rights protection in India. This can hinder innovation and investment.
  • Bureaucratic Hurdles: Dealing with red tape and bureaucratic procedures can be a major challenge. The process of getting permits, licenses, and clearances can be time consuming and frustrating.
  • Corruption & Transparency Issues: Despite efforts to address corruption, transparency issues still persist in certain areas. This can make weak operations and damage the reputation of foreign companies.
  • Localisation Requirements: Certain sectors may have localisation requirements like mandatory local sourcing or manufacturing. If supply chains are mainly overseas, it can be challenging initially to meet these requirements.
  • Talent Acquisition & Retention: Despite talent in India, the foreign companies may struggle to recruit and retain the top employees due to high competition from domestic and other foreign firms.

Read also: What is Import Duty on Cars in India? – Latest 2024


Investing in India brings challenges for foreign companies like complex laws and rules, unique business customs, limitations in infrastructure, intellectual property concerns. But with proper research and expert advice, you can overcome these obstacles and benefit from India’s promising growth. The government is working to improve the investment environment for international businesses. Hope you can answer now to a question “can a foreign company invest in Indian company”.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is investment made by a company or an individual from a country into the business ventures of another country. This investment can divided in 2 types:
  • Establishing new business operations or
  • Purchasing existing business assets in the target country.

A joint venture (JV) is a partnership where multiple parties work together. They share resources to complete a specific task or project. This partnership can be used to start a new businesses or collaborate on existing business.

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