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Once bitten, never shy

A fledgling economy attracts power sector investments like none other. Global power equipment major, GE Energy, now plans to set up a wind turbine manufacturing facility in the country, besides step up sourcing of power equipment components.

A fledgling economy attracts power sector investments like none other. Global power equipment major, GE Energy, now plans to set up a wind turbine manufacturing facility in the country, besides step up sourcing of power equipment components. Industry sources estimate the company will invest around Rs 400 crore. But that might just be for starters.

According to John Krenicki, Jr, President and CEO of GE Energy, the company is scouting for investment opportunities in the manufacturing segment that do not conflict with its technology license holder BHEL, which holds the licence to sell stateof-the-art gas turbines in the domestic market, where the import component is a little over 50 per cent.

Says Krenicki: “We are looking at opportunities not only to supply equipment but also to invest through our financial services arm GE Energy Financial Services.”

This strategy is no different from the one it pursued in the case of the beleaguered 2,184-MW Dabhol power project, where towards the end, GE had to eat humble pie. In 2005, when Indian lenders were negotiating to buy out GE’s equity in the project, the Indian government forced the American giant’s hand by threatening to cancel two large equipment supply contracts to state-owned NTPC if GE did not yield.

So, what’s the takeaway from the Dabhol experience? Says Krenicki: “We have to be pragmatic and open minded. Further, government is a key consumer and this is the situation in several countries that we operate in.”

Krenicki’s current visit to India has another key agenda: lobbying his company’s case for selling nuclear equipment, if and when the political situation allows for it. “We have met senior government officials and have expressed our interest in this business,” says the CEO. With the UPA government in a bit of a tizzy over the nuclear deal, Krenicki and other hopefuls may have some waiting to do.