Indian investment in the West Midlands moved up a gear yesterday with the acquisition of a prominent electrical switchgear manufacturer.
Hyderabad-based Victory Group announced it had taken over Craig and Derricott, a 64-year-old Walsall company, for an undisclosed sum.
The company, which was previously wholly-owned by the Derricott family, is a leading producer of high quality voltage controls and other electrical safety gear. It is the second Walsall-based engineer to move into Indian ownership in the past two years.
Stokes Forgings, an automotive components manufacturer, was taken over by Mumbai vehicle producer Mahindra & Mahindra in January 2006.
Tata Motors, India's biggest vehicle manufacturer, is currently the front runner in the £1 billion race to take over Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford. The Tata group already has a strong presence in the West Midlands following its acquisition of Corus, the former British Steel, in 2006.
The Victory Group is partially owned by Reliance Capital, a company belonging to the Reliance ADA group. It exports around the world and manufacturers switchgear for a wide range of blue-chip customers including Tubelines, Alstom, BAE Systems, Metronet, Bombardier, Siemens and Rolls-Royce.
Its acquisition of Craig & Derricott will see production continue to be based in the Midlands, securing more than 70 jobs.
Victory Group managing director Mahindra Vaddineni, said: "We could not be more delighted to welcome Craig and Derricott into the Victory Group.
"Craig and Derricott's specialist switchgear has an unrivalled reputation in key markets around the world and will support our own ambitious plans for expansion in countries such as India, Africa, China, the Middle East and America.
"Our expertise in manufacturing medium voltage switchgear will synergise with the products being manufactured by Craig & Derricott.
"We will support aggressive new product development pipelines for future growth, which will synergise with existing products, and cater to a wider clientele.
"This is a very exciting time for everyone at the company and an opportunity for rapid growth over the next few years."
Victory specialises in the manufacture of power, distribution and instrument transformers, vacuum circuit breakers, surge arresters and electro-porcelain products. Craig & Derricott managing director Gordon Barraclough, aged 52, is to leave the company following the takeover.
He said yesterday: "Since The Derricott family first started the business 64 years ago we have built a reputation for high quality specialist switchgear, securing a market leading position across the globe.
"The success of the company has been thanks to the hard work, dedication and engineering excellence of our dedicated and loyal employees."
Engineering director Andrew Dolman succeeds Mr Barraclough as managing director.
Regional development agency Advantage West Midlands said that the number of Indian companies investing in the region had more than doubled in two years.
There are now nearly 30 Indian-owned companies operating here, and between them they have created more than 1,000 new jobs since 2006.
"We are keen on tapping into the Indian market further," said Richard Butler, head of inward investment at AWM, which has had an office in Mumbai since 2003. There are currently tremendous opportunities for Indian companies to invest in the West Midlands, particularly in banking, IT software and engineering. The English language, ease of company set up, a large number of people of Indian origin resident in the region and direct flights to India means that the West Midlands is well placed to win many of these investments."
Other recent investments include Tata Motors' European Technical Centre at Warwick University, the acquisition of Tamworth-based CPT Gills Cables by Suprajit Engineering in 2006 and the takeover by Hindalco of Bridgnorth company Novelis in the same year.