Sweet home Andhra

Lord Swraj Paul’s Caparo Group has big plans for India.

In the mid-60s Swraj Paul relocated to London, moving away from the business his father had founded in India (the Apeejay Group); by the late ’60s he founded the Caparo Group in the UK. Now it’s the turn of one of Lord Swraj Paul’s sons to shift the group’s spotlight back to India. Angad Paul, Chief Executive of the Caparo Group, is also Chairman of Caparo India, which will be setting up an industrial park and a multipurpose special economic zone (SEZ) spread over 2,000 acres in the Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh; the park will focus on the automotive and aerospace sectors. “It is more than just investments that we are making.

Swraj Paul: Return of the native
Swraj Paul
We want to create a platform and play the role of a catalyst for others to come in,’’ says Angad Paul. The park’s location is, indeed, strategic—south of Andhra, near the Tamil Nadu border, and close to Chennai. Paul points out that the company was open to investing in any Indian state; it’s just that the proactive moves of the Andhra government (“We moved from the concept to the foundation stone in less than a year,” he says) coupled with the ideal location made Andhra the right choice. “We also need to respond to the needs and Andhra needed this,’’ says the young 37-year-old Paul, who these days visits India at least once every five to six weeks.

Caparo envisages an investment of Rs 3,500 crore in a phased manner. Of the 2,000 acres, 1,500 acres are for an industrial township and 500 acres for the SEZ. Apparently, the park is to be developed in such a manner so as to house units for special vehicles, automobile components, aerospace, engineering, forging, foundry and luxury buses, among others. It is meant to be an attraction for investors from the UK, the US and Europe.

According to the state government, the Caparo Group will be setting up four to five units on its own, besides joint venture projects in the automotive, engineering and aerospace sectors. Initially, Caparo will be setting up a luxury bus manufacturing plant in technical collaboration with Hyundai Motor of South Korea. The buses, meant for sale in the Indian market, will start rolling out in July 2009. Paul says Caparo India has grown quite rapidly and today has sales to the tune of around Rs 1,000 crore. Says he: “India is one of our largest customer bases and every automotive company in the country is a customer of Caparo.” He also says: “The largest single concentration of our business facilities in India will be in the south.” That’s good news for Andhra, and for India.

E. Kumar Sharma