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China central bank slowly buying into Indian companies

In mid-April, stock exchange disclosures revealed that the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) had a holding of over 1% in Indian mortgage finance major HDFC. But the Chinese central bank also holds stakes in several other listed companies. However, these are all below the radar since they are less than the 1% threshold limit for open disclosures by companies (see graphic). Among others, PBoC holds a 0.32% stake in cement sector major Ambuja Cement, and 0.43% in Piramal Enterprises, which has a major Ambuja Cement, and 0.43% in Piramal Enterprises, which has a major presence in the pharma sector.

PBoC’s holding in HDFC is currently worth about Rs 3,100 crore, while in Piramal Enterprises around Rs 137 crore, and in Ambuja Cement about Rs 122 crore. Exactly two years ago, the Chinese central bank had received RBI permission to set shop here. Two recent reports on Chinese investments in India have warned that several funds and investment companies, directly controlled or indirectly influenced by its government, have been eyeing stakes in companies that are strategically important to the economy.

Till 2019, PBoC also had a small stake in a company that’s a major player in the game of chances, but the bank exited that company some months ago. Market sources said the Chinese central bank also has stakes in several other companies, including in the Indian arm of a German manufacturing major and another domestic fertilisers major. But these are not disclosed publicly since they all are below the 1% limit.

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