A global leader in power generation and transport equipment and services, French conglomerate Alstom has completed 100 years of its operations in India.
The group’s Indian unit — Alstom India — generates 5% of the group’s overall revenues that run in excess of $25 billion (Rs 1,12,500 crore). Patrick Kron, chairman and chief executive officer, Alstom spoke to Hindustan Times on his company’s plans and business strategies.
The political-industry nexus isn’t something new or specific to India alone. Has corruption ever threatened your business in India?
I am not in a position to make any comments on corruption or no-corruption but at Alstom, we have very strict rules of ethics. We have ways of doing business which keep us immune from this type of disease, if such a disease exists at all. We make sure we maintain the highest standards in the way we do business, and this is an area in which no compromise is possible.
How do you see your revenue stream from Indian businesses building up?
It keeps moving up and down. If today we get a several billion dollar contract in the locomotive business, the figure will go up. Even the level of orders or the level of sales sometimes may be misleading. I don’t want to talk about targets or what percentage it will grow. If I am in the retail or telecom business, I can fix targets and push them into the market. But the kind of business I am handling, I do not look at percentages. All I want is that the business in India should grow and we are taking all the necessary steps.
What has been your experience so far and how bullish are you of your future investments in India?
As we celebrate 100 years in India, we are not discovering the merits of investing here. I feel there exist more opportunities today then yesterday. As we are serving the infrastructure market here--- and infrastructure being a major bottleneck to economic development--we see tremendous opportunities. I had the opportunity to meet Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, who also underlined his government’s priority towards infrastructure development. So whether it is power generation or rail transportation, we see major business opportunities.
What is the level of investments made by Alstom in India so far and what are your plans?
We don’t give numbers but have already invested billions of dollars in building four factories in India, the latest one being built with Bharat Forge at Mundra to make steam turbines. Then in rail transportation, we are looking at two loco projects in collaboration with a local partner. One project is to manufacture new locomotives, possibly at Bihar, and the other is to refurbish the old ones. Wind and solar power are two other segments we are developing as part of our business in India.
Any concerns or challenges that you would like to talk about while doing business in India?
Well we see more opportunities than concerns when it comes to doing business in India. It is only in the absence of a market that we can have concerns. But the message by the Indian PM (with focus on infrastructure) is an important one and this offers us a huge market. We continue to focus on the available opportunities along with competition.