GlaxoSmithKline's chief executive has told The Times that "I would love to buy something in India" but feels no need to pay over the odds.
Speaking during a two-day visit to Mumbai, Andrew Witty told the newspaper that "India is clearly on the radar" and that the drugs giant would look to pay between $500 million and $2 billion". However he seems reasonably happy with GSK's presence in the country already.
Mr Witty told The Times that "we already have an enviable brand in India so there is no need for us to pay a strategic premium. Others might need to do that, but we don't." GSK employs 5,000 people and has turnover of more than $1 billion in India.
Mr Witty also commented on plans proposed by the Indian authorities to tighten controls over mergers which could include a right of veto over foreign acquisitions. He said that this would represent an "extremely retrograde step" that would damage foreign investment in Indian R&D.
He added that "it's critical in terms of moving Indian pharmaceuticals up the value chain that you get a blend of the strengths of the local businesses with the global companies". Mr Witty said that "if one side isn't allowed to have influence or control, they are just not going to invest here. Why would you? There is a significant long-term loss there for the government."
Mr Witty seemed less concerned about intellectual property problems and corruption in India, saying that "yes, there are lots of challenges...but you can still grow a business here in the same way that you can in any country in the world."