Global power equipment major Alstom, which has been operating in the country for well over a century through Alstom Projects India Pvt Ltd (APIL), views the Indian market as comparable with the United States in size. APIL vice chairman and managing director Fredric Lalanne spoke with M Rajendran about the company’s plans in India, the potential of hydro and gas-based power projects, and the company’s thrust on expanding its research and development centre.
What opportunities do you see for Alstom in India?
We have planned a major investment initiative for India for the next two years in engineering and research and development (R&D). We plan to make it a hub in Asia. The ultra mega power project opens up an opportunity but we are not directly involved in it and are supporting Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd (BHEL) to provide the latest and cleanest coal technologies. But we will explore opportunities in hydro-power.
How do you view the Indian power scenario vis-à-vis other markets?
In the coal segment, the Indian market is smaller than China’s but it is as big as the US in terms of revenue potential. India is a critical market for Alstom, as the opportunities emerge in new areas. Our global engineering centre at Kolkata is very important: it supplies high-value engineering skills to our projects not only in India but also in countries in North America and Europe. We will add about 200 staff at the centre, taking the total strength to 1,000 by the coming March.
What are Alstom’s plans for its India operations?
We have a number of activities in India. There are three factories, manufacturing power equipment, one for hydro- and two for coal-based boilers. Investments would be enhanced in these factories, as they manufacture equipment for the global market apart from catering to the local market. We also plan to give a major push to the transport segment in India. Alstom has made a significant contribution to the ongoing Metro Rail project.
Hydropower is the future for Alstom in India. We are comfortable doing business in hydro because of our leadership position in manufacturing hydropower equipment worldwide. We would like to replicate this in India.
How has business been in India?
We have an order book of more than Rs 2000 crore in India, and expect this to go up substantially with more power projects coming up in the next few years - particularly gas-based ones. The recent find of gas in the KG basin and the optimism shown by companies like Reliance and Gujarat Sate Petroleum Corporation that gas would be available by 2008-2009, seems to indicate we are on the right track.