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ABB: Awed by India

It’s Hubertus Von Grunberg’s fifth or sixth visit to India, but his first as the Chairman of ABB and he clearly likes what he sees. And that is plenty of growth opportunities.

R. Sridharan | Print Edition: December 30, 2007

It’s Hubertus Von Grunberg’s fifth or sixth visit to India, but his first as the Chairman of ABB and he clearly likes what he sees. And that is plenty of growth opportunities. “Next five years, I clearly see India keeping its growth momentum,” says Grunberg, who was in India with the entire ABB global board for its first meeting in the country.

H V Grunberg
H V Grunberg
For starters, ABB hopes to double its revenues in the country by 2010, and is ploughing in $100 million (Rs 400 crore) to set up a new greenfield facility near Bangalore to manufacture lowvoltage products and power electronics. It is also setting up new units in Vadodara to make power and automation products.

ABB’s got another $100 million on tap for India. For good reason. Its India operations have been growing at a rapid clip. For the first nine months of 2007, ABB India’s revenues surged 42 per cent and net profit 51 per cent. At Rs 21,186 crore, its average market cap in the first half this financial year (2007-08) was up 85 per cent over the same period last year. “The reason we got Ravi (Uppal, former Managing Director of ABB India and now Chairman ABB India) to Zurich is to show the others (in ABB) what’s possible,” says Grunberg. Uppal is the head of global markets and operates out of ABB’s headquarters in Zurich.

Apart from the opportunities in the domestic market, ABB hopes to tap India for its engineering skills. It already has a global “Operations and Engineering Centre” in Bangalore, but has set up another one in Chennai to support its power systems and process automation projects across the world.

The local talent in India, Grunberg says, will help keep ABB competitive. “The top slot will be won by the best strategist and talent will be the key issue here,” says Grunberg, also Chairman of German tyre giant, Continental. But Grunberg, 65, says ABB isn’t just chasing growth. As its Chairman of 10 months, Grunberg, who has a doctorate in physics, says his job will be multiple. One, ensure that ABB continues to have great product portfolio in terms of innovative equipment; two, have its fair share of the market place; and three, play the role of a global citizen. “I believe that ABB has to set the direction in terms of clean technology and energy conserving equipment,” he says. As for India, Grunberg says this has been “my biggest trip for personal motivation”. Uppal & Co. must be beaming.

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