Cashed up thanks to rising profits at home, Indian firms are on a shopping spree?and increasingly looking abroad. In the past year, the Tata Group has snapped up everything from American telecom firm Tyco Global to venerable British teamaker Tetley. Other Indian companies have bought foreign pharmaceutical firms, auto-parts makers and aluminum suppliers. Last week a consortium led by India's Videocon Industries agreed to buy South Korean appliance maker Daewoo Electronics for $700 million. "Indian companies have become competitive, and they realize that," says Gurcharan Das, former CEO of Procter & Gamble India and author of the best-selling India Unbound. "The level of corporate governance has improved, the capital markets are a lot more sophisticated. The rest of the world now trusts us."
And yet by one important measure?foreign direct investment?India still lags Asia's other emerging giant, China. India is expected to receive only about 10% of the more than $80 billion that will pour into China this year. No matter. India's companies appear to have decided that if the world won't come to India, they'll go to the world.