Indian Real Estate Giant Seeks Partner

The Indian real estate conglomerate Sigrun and a leading Israeli firm are in talks over a deal worth over $500 million, according to knowledgeable sources.

Most of Sigrun's activities (95%) are in residential property, with the rest in office rentals, according to CEO and controlling shareholder Rajesh Nair, who arrived in Israel this week for a series of exploratory talks with representatives of Israeli real estate companies. He said that the company's profit in 2007 was $15 million, and if everything goes as planned, this year it will be $40 million.

Sigrun is examining various possibilities for cooperating with Israeli companies. One major Israeli firm, which has not expanded into the Indian market as yet, expressed interest in continuing the contacts with Sigrun, and the latter has hired a leading Tel Aviv law office to facilitate the proceedings.

In a conversation with TheMarker, Nair pointed out that his company has construction-ready building plots in India worth $500 million, in addition to hundreds of apartment units in various stages of construction. He said that the talks here have not yet reached the stage of precise numbers and percentages.

Nair stressed that any Israeli partner must have international exposure, since Sigrun has not yet ventured beyond India, while many Israeli companies are active in the world real estate market. He said he is looking for a company that can bring to the table technologies and planning capabilities that Sigrun lacks at present, while Sigrun can contribute its expertise in the Indian market to the Israeli partner.

Only a few Israeli developers - including Electra Real Estate and Azorim, and Elbit Imaging - are involved in construction in India.