General Electric (GE) is in talks to acquire several Indian firms in sectors such as healthcare, energy, transportation equipment and infrastructure, as the $183-billion conglomerate looks to expand beyond the US and Europe, its key markets that are affected by the global economic downturn.
"We are bullish on the India story and have a dedicated research team that is working on deals across sectors in India and overseas. We hope to close some of them in the next few months," said GE India CEO Tejpreet Chopra.
GE is going ahead with investment plans in its existing businesses such as healthcare, water, energy, aviation, rail and financial services. The firm is looking at partnering firms across sectors to leverage their knowledge and technology-sharing know-how.
The company, based in Fairfield, Connecticut, also plans to ramp up its headcount across divisions in India over the next few years. The company, which employs around 3,23,000 people globally, has around 12,000 people on its rolls in India. "Given the strength in technology, we will continue to attract best talent and retain the exiting ones. The freshers will get a chance to work on advanced technology and with some of the world's best scientists to develop and enhance their skills," Mr. Chopra said.
GE Capital, the financial arm of GE, closed its retail loans division and scaled down corporate funding drastically. "Given the new world we are living in, we'll do less of unsecured lending and go slow on personal loans. Our focus will remain on corporate lending and provide debt and equity solutions to entities in aviation, financial services and energy sectors," Mr. Chopra said.
Asked if GE India would meet $8-billion revenue target set for 2010, Mr. Chopra said, "We evaluated all our businesses after the slowdown hit the global economy last year. The current year is a reset year and we still have a lot of optimism, but I don't think we will get to $8-billion by 2010." The company could, however, manage $2.6-billion revenues close to its $3-billion target for 2008.
Elaborating on the initiatives in the healthcare sector, Mr. Chopra said that challenge is to bring down technology to a price point, which is affordable for the masses. For instance, the company has introduced low cost range of X-rays, electrocardiograms and infant care devices.
Sharing his excitement about the GE Day, scheduled for this week, Mr. Chopra said it's an event wherein people will get to see a wide range of cutting edge technologies and innovative products that GE offers across industries. "We want to use GE Day as a platform to partner with the government and entities in the private sector to resolve problems of electricity distribution, cleaning drinking water and adequate healthcare facilities, particularly in rural areas," Mr. Chopra said.