New Delhi: Private equity firm Actis LLP is in talks with global information technology companies and retailers to set up data centres in India, said a senior company executive. Actis is building the world’s largest non-governmental data centre outside Beijing and is eyeing similar opportunity in India after implementation of RBI norms on data localization.

“The opportunity for real estate in Asia is fantastic. And if you look at here in India, as I said, both in the residential space and the office space with you know the top partners as the Tatas, Shapoorjis and Mahindras, what you can think about (is) data centres," said Torbjorn Caesar, Actis senior partner.

Data localization refers to storing data on any device that is physically present within the borders of a country where the data is generated. Free flow of digital data, especially which can impact government operations, is restricted by some governments. Many try to protect and promote security across borders and, thus, encourage data localization.

Caesar, who chairs Actis’ executive committee, said data generated in India needs to be stored locally to comply with government rules, which means all cloud-based services will need a local data centre.

The data centre business will be handled by Standard Chartered Bank’s Principal Finance Real Estate business in Asia that Actis acquired recently and which has invested in China, India and South Korea.

“It will be under the real estate arm," Caesar said in an interview to Mint last month.

RBI has asked payment firms to submit fortnightly updates on the progress made on storing data locally. A 6 April RBI circular said: “All system providers shall ensure that the entire data relating to payment systems operated by them are stored in a system only in India. This data should include the full end-to-end transaction details/information collected/carried/processed as part of the message/payment instruction." It added that for the overseas leg of a transaction, the data may be stored in the foreign country. Global digital payment firms such as Visa, American Express, Facebook, PayPal, Mastercard and Google are likely to be impacted by the Indian regulations.

Caesar said Actis is in talks with all big global IT firms but added that “we don’t want to mention some names as we are still in negotiations."

Actis, which invests solely in emerging markets, has committed $2.1 billion for India and has been operating in energy, financial services and real estate space. Of this, $950 million has been committed in the last 18 months.

The company has had a good run in India’s clean energy space. In the largest domestic clean energy deal, Actis sold in April this year Ostro Energy Pvt. Ltd to ReNew Power Ventures in at an enterprise value of $1.5 billion. Ostro Energy and Solenergi are among the energy platforms that Actis has created globally, following Globeleq Meso America in Central America, Zuma Energia in Mexico, Aela Energia in Chile and Atlantic Renovaveis in Brazil.

Caesar also spoke about the competitive advantage that the 500 board level, C suite personnel it has across its businesses that offers unique insight and competence to be leveraged across its portfolio.

“The bargaining power we have from the procurement point of view is strong," he added.

Actis has $10 billion of projects under construction in growth markets and employs 116,500 employees in the businesses that it controls.

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