Business: Australia

Over to Oz

They may be foes on the cricket field, but when it comes to doing business, India and Australia should play together, says Sydney-based journalist and author Geoff Hiscock. According to him, opportunities for Aussie companies in India are immense while our companies eyeing global markets should use Australia for market testing product acceptability

—Empire Bureau
Business is booming in India. And Australia with its expertise must capitalise on it, says a veteran Australian journalist and the author of a book on the subject. Geoff Hiscock has authored India’s Global Wealth Club: The stunning Rise of its Billionaires and the Secrets of Their Success, published this year by John Wiley & Sons. Hiscock believes the opportunities for Australian companies are immense although its big relationship with India will start only in the next five to 10 years.

“The Indian supply chain is deficient and requires expertise in the transport and logistics sector. Australian company Linfox has seen the opportunity and entered the market in time, but there is opportunity for many more, for example, in the next five to 10 years India will need 50 million truck drivers, who will need to be trained,” Hiscock said.

Food processing is another sector where Australian companies with their expertise in food packaging and shipping can find a huge market, he says. The Tata Group has a sourcing arrangement for its consumer durables business with Australia’s Woolworths that operates retail formats as varied as supermarkets, convenience stores, liquor, petrol, general merchandise and consumer electronics among others.

The Indian automotive industry is on the move. Hiscock says: “As Indian companies look for more markets abroad, Australia could be a place for market testing their products for international acceptability. “At the same time Indian companies could be looking at Australian technology in automotive design and components.”

According to Hiscock, there are seven secrets of India’s remarkable resurgence—India’s size, science, diaspora, cultural history, English literacy, strategic weight and switch to a globalisation mindset
In the book, he profiles the success stories of 100 of India’s richest. “The message across the board is: keep it simple, business doesn’t have to be complicated. Give it all your passion, focus, dedication and infuse the same passion in people working for the company. The right timing in business is a big factor and so is some amount of luck,” Hiscock said.
According to the author, there are seven secrets of India’s remarkable resurgence —India’s size, science, diaspora, cultural history, English literacy, strategic weight and switch to a globalisation mindset.

The book provides rich insights into the intriguing subject of what makes India tick. It is a good reference source for those venturing into this highly lucrative but profoundly complex Indian marketplace. Hiscock is also the author of the hugely successful books Asia’s Wealth Club (1997) and Asia’s New Wealth Club (2000).

“As a consequence of rapid growth in the Indian share market in 2007, even though the gloss has been taken off in 2008, IPOs have thrown up at least 10 to 12 new billionaires in the last six months,” he says. “Most of the billionaire newcomers are in financial services, property, construction and infrastructure, reflecting the hottest sectors of the Indian economy,” he adds. 
He lists 12 new names reshaping the order of India’s Global Wealth Club in 2008—Anand Jain of Jai Corp; Gautam Adani of Adani Enterprises; Rakesh K. Wadhawan of HDIL; Reji Abraham of Aban Offshore, L. Madhusudhan Rao of Lanco Infratech; Ravi Puravankara of Puravankara Projects; Atul Punj of Punj Lloyd; Nimesh Kampani of JM Financial; Murali K. Divi of Divi’s Labs; P.N.C. Menon of Sobha Developers; Rohtas Goel of Omaxe; and Sameer Gehlaut of Indiabulls Financial Services.
Hiscock has just completed his second book focusing on the “most prospective” retail sector in India. To be launched later this year, it explores the changes in the Indian consumer, how younger Indians have more confident and are willing to borrow to finance their consumption. According to Hiscock, the first big IPO success of 2008 is Future Capital, the consumer finance arm of the Future Group empire created by India’s innovative retailer Kishore Biyani. Biyani faces tough competition in the retail sector from Reliance Industries, whose chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani ranks among India’s richest men.

Also in the retail fray are Sunil Bharti Mittal of Bharti Airtel, who is due to open his first Bharti supermarket soon and Kumarmangalam Birla of Aditya Birla Grou, who is launching his own chain of supermarkets. Hiscock says: “The things that have driven growth in India include its technology, its expanding share market, its financial reforms, its young population and a relatively benign environment. It is India’s century for the taking. The Golden Bird is ready to fly again.”

June 2008

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