This Article is From Jan 28, 2013

Hinduja Group eyes Africa for business expansion

Hinduja Group eyes Africa for business expansion

Global business conglomerate Hinduja Group is planning to significantly expand presence in Africa in areas ranging from transport, infrastructure and coal, and would look to partner governments of various African countries for its new businesses in the region.

The UK-based group, run by billionaire Hinduja brothers, is already present across various countries including India in sectors like banking, auto, energy, technology and healthcare, and has a turnover of over $25 billion (about Rs 1.4 lakh crore).

"We at Hinduja Group are planning significant expansion plans in African countries. We are trying to create our business hubs in Kenya and in East Africa, in addition to out existing hubs in South Africa, Tanzania and Nigeria in the region," Hinduja Group's co-chairman Gopichand Hinduja told PTI.

Mr Gopichand and his brother Prakash Hinduja were here to participate in the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting, during which they met government heads and top officials of various African countries and discussed their business plans.

Prakash Hinduja said the group is also looking at expansion in Latin American countries and its expansion plans in India, where it has previously announced investments totalling $30 billion over a five year period, are progressing on track.

The group's Indian units include commercial banking entity IndusInd Bank, lubricants and specialty chemicals firm Gulf Oil and commercial vehicle maker Ashok Leyland, among others. "In Africa, there is so much to be done, but for now we are focussing on our existing strength in various business
verticals and therefore focussing on sectors like transport, auto, lubricants, infrastructure and coal.

"We will focus on partnering the governments of various African countries and look at PPP model of business there," Gopichand Hinduja said. Hinduja Group's Europe chairman Prakash Hinduja said the two brothers met government heads of South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, among others during the Davos meeting and discussed potential business opportunities in those countries.

"We are keen to work on public transport systems in African countries through Ashok Leyland and we are in touch with the governments there in this regard. "We are looking at entire African region and we have met top government officials from Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Gabon here in this regard.

Besides Ashok Leyland, group would also look to expand the business of its verticals in lubricants, IT and others into Africa, he said. Prakash Hinduja further said the group would look at linking its investments in India and Africa and would work with the governments in different countries. "We will also look at Latin America region for expansion there," he added.

Asked about the renewed wave of economic reform initiatives in India and the reaction of foreign entities to this, Gopichand Hinduja said overseas investors believe that these are welcome steps, but implementation would be the key.

"There is lot of optimism for India, but the investors are currently adopting a wait and watch stance about the implementation. Now, India has a good opportunity to showcase its strength when UK Prime Minister and other global leaders visit there," he said.

In reply to a question from Gopichand Hinduja during an interactive session at WEF summit here, British premier David Cameron had said he was committed to expanding trade ties with India and he would discuss ways to deepen the cooperation between the two countries during his India visit.

Prakash Hinduja also said reform measures being taken by the Indian government are welcome steps, but their implementation and monitoring of projects hold the key. "Reforms are very good, but to implement and monitor those reforms, those are the key points.

There should be a clear cut programme for implementation and monitoring of the investment projects, so that people from across the world can observe and thereafter it should generate a word-of-mouth publicity for further investments to come into the country.

"It is a small world today amid growing globalisation and one good investment will bring in others from various parts of the globe. "The events like WEF meeting provide meeting grounds for people from across the world, where different companies and different investors should talk that we went to invest in India and our deal went through, so that others get enthused to invest in India," he said.

Asked about the group's previously announced $30 billion investment plan in India across various sectors like power, healthcare, defence and infrastructure, he said that the plans are progressing well.
The group has made significant headways into banking, healthcare and various other businesses in India and further expansion plans for different sectors are currently underway, he added.

Prakash Hinduja said that the group is currently working on a major expansion plan in its hospitals and healthcare business and would look at harnessing India's potential for an IT sector like growth revolution in the healthcare business.

"India has great potential to exploit opportunities in the US and the Western world in the healthcare outsourcing business in areas like clinical trials etc and the growth in this business could equal that witnessed by the IT sector in the past.

"Within India also, there is a great potential to grow healthcare facilities in the country and we would look to partner in this progress," he added.