Dangal is Charming a New Wave of Chinese Investors Coming to India

From BW Disrupt Dialogue Series: A former Fosun MD Pan Song is back in India with his own Investment firm, QiGoal; Song together with prolific investor Dheeraj Jain will establish an India – China Venture Capital Association

It’s that palpable Indo-Sino Dangal chemistry Pan Song is trying to leverage. The former MD for Fosun Group’s Indian private equity arm has formed his own venture firm, QiGoal Capital, and in his maiden VC voyage to India is forming a strategic partnership with Redcliffe Capital of which Dheeraj Jain is Managing Partner. At the BW Disrupt Dialogue Series, the two investment managing counterparts also revealed plans for an India – China Venture Capital Association. The association will focus on venture capital for early and growth stage startups as well as private equity investments.

“Dangal box office crossed 800 million yuan in China - more than 3 times what it did in India, it’s a touching and inspiring start to how we [India and China] can relate to each other,” said Pan Song. 

Fosun High Technology Group is one of China’s largest privately owned business conglomerates and mainly invests in insurance, steel production and real estate development. Of Pan's time in India starting with Fosun, Dheeraj Jain said,  “What’s special about Pan Song is that he is still bullish on India. His personal history with India has been outstanding. Last decade was about fortifying the infrastructure of India to set up the future we are now living. Pan was one of the key people that fuelled the FDI coming into India. As an ambassador of Fosun he built trust between Indian companies and the banks of China. When India’s investment grade was very low and lending institutions were weary of approving loans, Pan Song convinced the Chinese credit agencies. He has done great work for India.”

Ask any non-Chinese investor. It takes to years to build trust with the Chinese. “A decade back we only had large investors interested only if they could do multibillion dollar deals; Pan Song has instituted an age where mid sized investors are feeling confident about investing here,” said Jain. Investors willing to work with smaller companies for ROI of medium size is a fillip to the early and growth stage startups of the country.

What brings this new wave of investors, including Pan, is middle class India’s consumption story.

“India’s consumption story in the next three years is most exciting and political stability has never been better. I first met PM Modi when he was chief minister of Gujarat and I’m deeply impressed. His leadership compared to previous leaders is right up there. PM Modi has done much to foster state level relations and this is all good for Indo-Sino business and investor relations,” an affable Song said.

India is thriving off Chinese goods and services at present. But that doesn’t mean all is well at the investor level. Fuelled by geopolitical issues, there is an undeniable aura of cautious mistrust on ground that perhaps may not persist at the state head level, but does persist nevertheless. Anurag Batra, editor in chief at BW Businessworld asked the new venture investor, “How do you tackle that haze of mistrust between India and China?

Pan Song replied, “It’s about giving time. India is almost like my second home, I have been here when Chennai was still called Madras and Bengaluru was still called Bangalore. If we work with sincerity and win the trust of Indians we can make this work.” The newly christened founder of QiGoal will be looking at investing in FMCG, TMT (technology, media and telecom), healthcare and services related to infrastructure. Pan Song said he firmly believes the relationship is mutually beneficial and synergistic. “The Chinese can learn from India how to make the best of any opportunity – Indians are very entrepreneurial and succeed in any challenge, that’s why most of the global CEOs are from India.”

And Indian investors can learn something from the Chinese VCs. “The Chinese startup ecosystem is mature than India, and that means the Chinese investors have been there and done that. I hope the Indian and Chinese investors can work together, so that the Indian investor community’s learning cycle is shortened and we can achieve larger successes, faster, here in India,” concluded the Far East investor hoping to usher in a new era of Indo-Sino wealth building.

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