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Is this an April Fool Story?

In November 2011 I received a call from someone with a very strong regional accent. For those of you not from the UK the Midlands accent is very nasal and many from elsewhere try to mimic the accent as a “wind up” and my initial thought was it’s a friend trying to get me to bite especially when the next sentence was uttered.

“Can you help us by sending some workers to India to finish off a plant?” Resisting the temptation to say what sort of Indians would you like Red or Brown – I listened intrigued as a completely new potential line of business I hadn’t hitherto thought of unfolded before me.

Confidentially means full names cannot be revealed but suffice to say, it involves a European multinational working in turn for an iconic global brand on a new plant in India. They wanted the plant finished to the highest European standards and felt that this should be delivered, along with training the local workers, by European workers.

We are no strangers to cross border transactions but we opted for a team of Polish workers put together for us by our partners in Poland LSJ recruitment.

Agreeing the commercial aspects of the deal was relatively painless but as always on these deals documentation was protracted, with Lawyers on both sides slowing matters down and adding little value, but we got there with time to spare………. but then the problems started!

If bureaucracy was an Olympic event India would sweep the podium. Communication – if you get any – is always very,very, late and uses forms of English not understood in the West. This culminated in 3 days being camped at the Indian Embassy in Warsaw trying to get visas which finally came through at 8pm of the Friday evening as the team was flying at 5am on the Saturday.

Similarly you have to hold a PAN which is a license to do business in India. It holds itself out to be an online registration but is anything but and what is supposed to take a couple of days ended up taking months, not helped by incorrect information on the Indian Revenue website followed by inordinately slow responses from the Indian Embassy. The response when received from the Indian Embassy came on unheaded paper and could have been from the local takeaway. Eventually we were directed to our own Foreign and Commonwealth Office with operating response times of 5 days that became 21 and more than two months were wasted in the process. Anyone contemplating doing business in India needs to consider the cost of bureaucracy as it nearly caused the deal to be still born.

Anyway on to happier things, the team has been in India for 4 weeks and other than a bit of “flu” that hit a few workers in the third week the work has progressed well and is on schedule.

For anyone interested in cross border transactions this download may be of interest and we’ll be posting a few pictures from our team in India over the weeks to come to prove that this is no April Fool.


Author: Chris Slay

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