With elections looming, foreign investors have one more reason to be wary. For those that take the plunge, what strategies are available to manage the considerable uncertainties of investing in India? Rebecca Abraham finds out

In February, British prime minister David Cameron led a 100-strong trade delegation to India. The three-day trip began in Mumbai, where Cameron spent an hour at the offices of Hindustan Unilever, which he described as “a great British success story here in India”.

Unilever used Cameron’s visit to its Indian subsidiary to announce a €50 million (US$69 million) investment in an aerosol deodorant factory in Maharashtra. Then on 30 April, the Anglo-Dutch company announced a voluntary open offer to increase Unilever’s stake in Hindustan Unilever from 52.48% to up to 75%.

Describing India as a “strategic long-term priority for the business”, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, said the open offer was “a further step in Unilever’s strategy to invest in emerging markets”. When the offer closed on 4 July, Unilever had raised its stake to 67.28% and the US$3.5 billion share purchase became India’s largest inward investment so far this year.

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