WEF 2022: Global concerns have made India growth story stronger, says Kumar Mangalam Birla 

WEF 2022: Global concerns have made India growth story stronger, says Kumar Mangalam Birla 

The Chairman of Aditya Birla Group believes that with China having its own set of problems, India is a natural option for investors; he believes that with his group’s low debt levels, there is a huge room for growth of his businesses. 

KM Birla in Davos KM Birla in Davos

There are a lot of global concerns currently and banks have been raising interest rates to contain inflation but that is only making the India story stronger, says Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla. 

According to the India Inc veteran, global investors are looking at India at a time when their confidence has been shaken in China due to a combination of reasons. 

Here are the excerpts of his interaction with India Today on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at Davos. 

On vision ahead for Aditya Birla Group: 

We have around $7 billion of capex announced and under implementation in India. We also have about $3 billion announced and again underway overseas largely Novelis. So, I think it's a very exciting time. The fact that we hardly have debt and have strong cash flows gives us that extra sort of power and extra headroom. The vision remains pretty much the same. It's about being a leader in the sector that we are in. In the last few years, we've only bolstered our position as leaders – leaders being defined as number one or number two. We focus very much on cash flows. We have very strong cash generating businesses. At a group level, debt to EBITDA level is less than one. So (there is) huge headroom for growth. 

On India growth story amid global concerns: 

We had the US-China trade war. We had a tsunami in Japan. We had floods in Thailand… The war is a matter of worry. And obviously interest rates will go up not just in India but across the world… I don't see how that dampens the India story though. In fact, I think it makes the Indian story even stronger because you have macros that are very much in place… On India, I remain very positive. I think that we really are shining out vis-a-vis the rest of the global economies… It is the fastest growing economy in the world, something that people here in Davos also recognise. It doesn't go unnoticed. 

On advantages of using technology: 

I think a way to keep costs down is going to be technology. It could be IoT, digitisation, sensors, drones or all of that put together. So, you require a lot of very young people who are digitally native, and who can put this in place for all of our businesses. 

On start-ups versus traditional businesses: 

I think that a start-up has its own advantages. As for a traditional business house like us, I think that once we focus on a particular issue, we are very quick to move on it. So, it doesn't mean that big is slow. I think that we've shown a lot of aggression both internally in the way we run our businesses and also externally in the way we have grown. For large businesses, I think adopting technology with greater depth, especially on the side of the whole supply chain part of things is going to be a whole new area of focus. 

On India as an investment destination for global investors: 

I haven't heard anyone saying that we don't want to invest (in India). A large part of China… has been shut down for a long time. Therefore, it shakes investor’s confidence. And I think that they see India as a sort of natural option. I didn't hear about any major concern that people have about investing in India. Most people have sector preferences but a positive view on the country. So, I think that this is really a good time for us to try and leap forward. 

On role of government: 

The role of the government is to create an enabling environment. And, policymaking is part of that... I don't hear any concerns.

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