Pharmaceuticals and nutrition to remain areas of interest

Written by Soma Das | Updated: Apr 5 2012, 08:42am hrs
The $11-billion plus Dutch multinational DSM with core interest in life sciences and material science has set a target to earn over half its revenue from high growth emerging economies such as India and China by 2015. The company has a cash pile of $2.5 billion and is in the process of identifying potential acquisition targets. DSMs global CEO Feike Sijbesma told Soma Das about the companys plan to triple its revenue from India in next three years, the says it is looking for in a potential target and how India could be poised to reclaim a lost opportunity to speed up its growth. Excerpts:

Could you share the companys strategy in India

At the global level, we will grow close to 6% per year. To add to it, we will also do acquisitions. We have $2-2.5 billion in cash. In 2010, when we reformulated our strategies, over 30% of income came from high growth-new economies such as India and China. Last year that figure jumped to 38-39%. We want that figure to cross 50% by 2015, which essentially means the high growth economies would be bigger than the US and other European economies for DSM. China, of course, will play a bigger role, as revenues there grow from $1.5 billion in 2010 to $3 billion by 2015. India currently contributes $200 million and we aim to triple it to $600 million by 2015. While now China is 10 times bigger, this gap would shrink to a substantial extent in by 2015 when we actually expect that China would be five times bigger than India for DSM.

And how do plan to achieve geographical shift

We are moving global headquarters, and not regional headquarters, to Asia. For various businesses, we have already moved headquarters to Shanghai and Singapore. We are building innovation centres in India and China as we want these countries to lead the future source of products in areas like food and new materials. We are in the midst of a transformation and India would play an important role.

Compared with DSMs China business, from where you garner around $2 billion, the companys India business seems a minnow.

We started over two decades ago in Punjab in a partnership with Max India. At that point, it seemed India would grow faster than China. It didnt and China outpaced India. But I feel we are again standing at a transition point. Twenty years from now, the average age of Indians will go down while the average age of Chinese will go up, implying that India will turn younger while China will grow older. That would bring a change in mindset, in the social structure, and demands. We are charting out the role that we would play in that backdrop.

With a cash pile of over $2 billion, you are surely looking at potential acquisitions here. What kind of companies you are targeting here

We will grow inorganically and organically. Pharmaceuticals would remain an area of interest, nutrition, both animal and human, and new food concepts which fit into the Indian food habits, conform to Indian lifestyles and tradition. Apart from that, traditional Indian medicine, herbal extracts can be other potential areas of growth. Other sectors of interest would be biotech, renewable energy solar and wind and specialised materials for car and electronics.

What should be size of deals that we may expect

You shouldnt expect in billions of dollars but tens of millions and hundreds of millions is quite thinkable for us.

You said earlier that India may grow faster than China, and that proved incorrect. Can you in hindsight pinpoint at the causes that led to this.

The state of advancement of technology in India was far advanced in India, compared with China in mid-eighties and there was an immense advantage in form of language. The Indians know best why that didnt translate into more rapid growth compared with foreigners like me but if you still ask me, I would say that India lacked infrastructural investments. The story was not much different in China in eighties but now the infrastructure there is phenomenal. And of course there is a totally different model of governance in the two countries, which has its own advantages and disadvantages. Chinas fast growth was one of the advantages but India would find its own way of expediting the rate of growth.