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Naidu eyes Microsoft repeat

Hyderabad, June 12: Chief minister Chandrababu Naidu is tapping Microsoft to try and repeat in residuary Andhra Pradesh the investment spree he had once unleashed in united Andhra.

Naidu is talking to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, a son of Andhra, to have a development centre set up in his cash-strapped state that is looking for an economic turnaround after losing Hyderabad to Telangana.

Microsoft’s development centre in Hyderabad was the company’s first outside its headquarters in Redmond, the US. Set up in 1998 when Naidu was chief minister, the 56-acre Hyderabad campus has nearly 5,000 employees.

Naidu had met Bill Gates and invited him. Microsoft started off from a rented compound and by the time it had built its own campus — on land provided by Naidu — the Telugu Desam chief was out of power.

Microsoft was followed to Hyderabad by Dell, Oracle and financial firms like UBS, triggering Rs 75,000-crore worth of economic activity and earning Naidu laurels for his investment acumen.

Nadella, who is from a village near Puttaparthi in Anantapur district, is likely to take the discussions forward during a visit to Hyderabad in early October or December, Desam sources said.

It was Naidu who revealed his latest efforts to ministerial colleagues at the new state’s maiden cabinet meeting today in Visakhapatnam, sources said. The state is inviting other software and hardware giants too to set up shop.

Chittoor and Anantapur, with their pleasant climates and proximity to the international airports in Bangalore and Chennai, are the first priorities.

“We want to ensure that our boys don’t need to go to Hyderabad for jobs,” Naidu was quoted as telling his cabinet.

Naidu has directed a three-member team of bureaucrats to prepare a road map to attract IT investments. He has begun talks with a forum of industrialists who have assured an immediate investment of Rs 5,600 crore in IT, pharma and engineering units.

“Land and water sources are available abundantly for IT projects in Anantapur, particularly in the region of the Lepakshi Knowledge Hub (80km from Bangalore),” a government source said.

The state has announced a Rs 5 lakh compensation for the families of all the 24 Hyderabad students (and tour operator’s son) who died in the Himachal Pradesh tragedy.