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Gurgaon keeps on attracting Global Firms
Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Despite long commutes and bad roads, as developers churn out office space, several large Indian companies continue to flock to Gurgaon, and the slow trickle that started in the late 1990s has become a virtual flood today.

While companies like Pepsi, Coke, Nestle, British Airways and others have been around for a while, innumerable MNCs such as Genpact, IBM, Microsoft, WNS, ESPN, American Express, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Canon, Nokia, Ericsson, Sapient and ABN Amro have in the last few months made a beeline for commercial spaces in Gurgaon, most of them moving their headquarters to the new premises.

Predictably, all the major consultancy firms like KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst and Young, international property consultants like Cushman and Wakefield and Jones Lang Meghraj, and leading advertising agencies like O&M have followed. Companies like Lufthansa, GE India and Royal Bank of Scotland, which have not set up bases yet, are looking to make the move soon.

"The trend has picked up dramatically in the last year or so, as space that was committed a few years ago has become ready for occupation," explains DLF Commercial's Chairman AS Minocha.

Those who live in this satellite city but have to go to Delhi for work can't figure out what they are doing. Mohit Jayal, managing director of advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy, lives in Gurgaon and works out of south Delhi, but finds himself back in Gurgaon four times a week as many of his clients like Nokia, A1 Grand Prix Team India and Indigo are based in this satellite town.

He says none of his clients have moved from Gurgaon to Delhi or Noida whereas the reverse is happening all the time. Ashwin Juneja, head (New Delhi) for DBS Bank (Singapore's largest bank), says he "finds himself and his entire team spending more and more time in Gurgaon every week, as many of his bank's existing and prospective clients are basing themselves there".

This is despite the fact that the lure of Delhi's downtown areas like Connaught Place have increased due to metro rail connectivity. But, improved access has also led to soaring rents. The best Gurgaon address can be had for around Rs 60-80 per square feet, while a location in Parliament Street would now cost about Rs 400-500 per square feet.

Apart from lower rents, there's a host of other reasons companies offer for basing themselves in Gurgaon. With metro connectivity due to begin shortly and the opening of the NH-8 expressway, connectivity has already improved. A drive from Connaught Place to Cybercity now takes about 45-50 minutes from the earlier one-and-a-half hours. Also, buildings are being made to suit specific clients needs, something hard to find in Delhi. Typically in Delhi, large companies operate out of different branches due to space constraints. In Gurgaon, however, everyone can be based under one roof. This reduces the travel time spent by executives.

Others have moved to be close to their clients and those who they service. "I can't think of many of our clients who are now based in Delhi or Noida. I go into Delhi for a client meeting once in about 45 days," says Atika Malik, JWT's senior vice-president and executive planning director.

Many of her agency's main clients - Pepsi, Frito Lay, Nokia, GSK, Nestle, ESPN, Hero Honda - are located about 2 km from her office.

Other than JWT and O&M, advertising agencies like Lowe, Rediffusion, Euro RSCG, Publicis, and Capital have their offices in Gurgaon. Despite its bad roads and phenomenal traffic, the satellite town remains high on corporate radar.



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