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The Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.,Warren Buffett, arrives at the Parliament House tomeet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday.- PHOTO: SHANKER CHAKRAVARTY
NEW DELHI: Keen to enter the growing insurance sector, U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett on Friday wondered if India would raise the FDI limit in the sector to 49 per cent.
The U.S.-based company is keenly watching the developments regarding further opening of the sector to foreign investment.
Mr. Buffett, whose group Berkshire Hathaway recently entered the Indian insurance market, called on IRDA Chairman J. Harinarayan here and wanted to know if the FDI cap would be raised to 49 per cent. IRDA is the insurance regulator.
Mr. Buffett, known for his business acumen and choice of investments, said that India “is an exciting market.”
The Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008 is pending in Parliament.
The Bill, when enacted, would allow raising of the FDI cap to 49 per cent. However, it has been awaiting approval since 2008 as it was delayed by strong opposition from the Left parties.
Berkshire Hathaway had recently forayed into the Indian non-life insurance sector as a corporate agent of Bajaj Allianz General.
On his maiden visit, Mr. Buffett had said that a foreign investment cap of 26 per cent in insurance sector here was a deterrent.
Earlier in the day, Berkshire Hathaway's head of re-insurance Ajit Jain said the question of larger investments in the sector in India “depends on regulation.”
Of Indian origin, Mr. Jain, long rumoured to succeed Mr. Buffet, looks after the conglomerate's multi-billion dollar re-insurance business.
On Thursday, Mr. Buffett along with Microsoft founder Bill Gates, held a dinner meeting here with 70 business people, including Wipro Chairman Azim Premji, and discussed a wide range of issues related to philanthropy.
As part of its India entry, the American conglomerate has incorporated Berkshire India to sell and distribute general insurance products in India. It would directly sell insurance to consumers through the portal ‘www.berkshireinsurance.com' and by way of telemarketing.
Berkshire Hathaway is a sprawling conglomerate that has interests in various businesses, including property and casualty insurance and reinsurance, finance, manufacturing, and retailing. — PTI
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