The world’s second-largest company General Electric (GE) on Monday said it was frustrated at the slow pace of decision-making in India and considered it the biggest challenge ahead of the current hot potato — corruption. However, the company lists India as an extremely important market.
In town to attend a meeting of the group’s corporate executive council, chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt said that in itself signifies India’s importance to GE’s long-term growth plans. The executive council meeting is being held outside the US for the first time in GE’s history.
GE has been in the running for a lucrative contract with the Indian Railways for supplying locomotives and is one of the two qualified to bid for the contract. But the process has been held up in numerous bureaucratic hurdles and delays, a solution to which is still not in sight.
“We have invested for a long period of time for the opportunity to successfully bid on a competitive basis to modernise the railways in India,” said Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and chief executive officer, GE. “It is extremely important to us that the investment gets made and we should atleast get a chance to bid. We can cope with failure but not getting a chance is very frustrating.”
Even then, the company expects its business in India to grow by over 30% this year, on a par with developing economies such as Latin America and China.
“Our Indian operations have now gained critical mass and we will build very deep roots here,” Immelt said. “All our emerging markets are growing very well.....at high double digits.”
GE is present in India since 1902 and in diversified sectors such as healthcare, aviation, transportation, energy and financial services. It employs over 12,000 people in India and has technical centres in Hyderabad and Bangalore. On Monday, Immelt elaborated on GE’s plans to set up a manufacturing unit that will cater to multiple sectors.
“Initially we would invest $50 million (Rs 225 crore) for setting up the manufacturing facility... total investment will be $200 million (Rs 900 crore), including after expansion, and the company will take a call in the next 3-6 months,” Immelt said. “Our energy business would be the principle user of the facility... it would provide more than 3,000 jobs.”