"India has emerged as the most popular expansion market," said CBRE's Annual European Occupier Survey, which studies the latest occupier real estate trends.
This year over 70 corporate occupiers responded to the survey. They represented leading corporations covering a range of sectors, with banking and finance and technology and telecommunications sub-sets forming the largest groups.
"When asked to identify where they intended to expand their operations, about 48 per cent named India (double of 24 per cent in 2012-13), and 42 per cent named China (down from 60 per cent in 201213)," CBRE said.
There is a significant rise in the number of corporates intending to expand into Africa. This target market is now identified by a third of respondents against a fifth in 2012-13.
CBRE's survey found out that rapid population and economic growth, coupled with increasing transparency and improving infrastructure, is removing many of the traditional barriers to entry to the India market.
"Corporate decision makers are responding to signs of economic improvement across Europe, shifting focus away from pure cost management to future growth opportunities, with an increased appetite for global expansion into Indian markets," CBRE South Asia CMD Anshuman Magazine said.
The survey, now in its fourth year, is conducted by corporate real estate decision makers at global corporations, collectively occupying about 2.7 billion sq ft worldwide. It shows corporates' increased confidence in the economic recovery, with less than half (46 per cent) identifying weak economies as a concern.
"As the economic outlook improves, multi-national companies are demonstrating an appetite for international expansion into new markets," CBRE said.
The survey demonstrates this with more than half of the corporate respondents (56 per cent) naming access to new markets and customers as the principal driver for location decisions. "This broad appetite for expansion sees India emerge as a destination of choice," the survey revealed.
"The opportunities presented by rapid growth in India may now be sufficient to overcome some of the longstanding barriers governance, infrastructure, bureaucracy, and lack of transparency that have inhibited inward investment," Magazine said.
India has already attracted a large number of occupiers from a range of sectors, including financial and business services, media, technology and telecommunications, and pharmaceuticals.