Davos 2019: Key Insights From Anand Mahindra, Sunil Mittal, Sajjan Jindal, Aditya Mittal And Others
India Inc. had a colourful time at the recently concluded World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Some business leaders chose to verbally spar over India's insolvency law, some talked candidly about an upcoming consumption demand revival. Others chose to stick to talk about the future prospects of their own companies and sectors.
All in all, like always, the annual congregation at the ski resort provided an opportunity to understand what the future holds for India Inc.
Here’s what they said:
The chairman of the JSW Group threw his weight behind the Ruias in the race for Essar Steel. "They (Ruias) should be given a chance. It is their company, if they’re paying 100 percent of the money, so why not," he said.
But that wasn't all. Jindal also hinted at a partnership with the Ruias.
The President of ArcerlorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, wasn't amused by the Ruias’ late bid. “India has to be rule based; we must rely on the basic process of law. These tactics are to delay, to frustrate and prevent the right resolution for the company,” he said.
Mittal hoped that the rule of law would prevail.
The Bajaj Finserv managing director wanted to shed the shadow banking tag given to non-banking financial companies. "People say NBFC is shadow banking. It's not. It's real banking."
Bajaj also spoke about the liquidity crunch NBFCs faced and how it may not be yet over.
Bharti Airtel Ltd. chairman said that the telecom industry may start recovering from its "dreadful decline" in 2020. "What you need to focus in 2019 is to hold your market share—both revenue and customer market shares—if that’s in place and cost structure well taken care of, I think you will be okay."
He said when the chips fall, Airtel will be the last man standing.
The Mahindra Group boss said that, as of now, there are no plans to change the ownership structure of the company, adding that when he plans to step down he would go the family office way. "The family office view, I think that is the way we would look at it. Whatever role my family plays in the future, it will be one to goad the professional management into preserving our wealth and enhancing it."
Mahindra also commented on the consumer demand revival and how the group was responding to protectionist policies in markets that they do business in.
The veteran banker said investment in infrastructure was essential for India to have double digit economic growth.
"India has a lot of growth opportunities on the infrastructure front such as roads, highways and power sector like green energy initiatives. It will not only drive economic momentum but also create jobs.”
Kamath also weighed in on the the need for lower interest rates.
Dalmia Bharat's managing director said that cement prices will finally come back to historical average as domestic demand returns. "Over the last 15 years, prices have grown at 5 percent CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) annually. Over five to six years, however, prices grew at only 2-3 percent. So, there’s a scope to catch up," he said. "Even though we see some headwinds for organised real estate demand, it will be more than compensated by affordable housing and infrastructure spending."
Dalmia also elaborated on the group’s expansion plans.
Apollo Tyres managing director and vice chairman said that he expects vehicle demand to surge in 2019-20 while calling the current slowdown a "short blip".
"There is going to be a demand surge coming in very soon. We are just waiting and watching"
Bharat Forge's executive director outlined a two-pronged strategy for his company to achieve double digit growth. He wants his company to venture into newer verticals and more "jazzy" auto components. "We’re focussed on creating new capabilities in order to supply components and solutions that we haven’t been doing at scale of what the potential is today."
Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd.'s managing director said that 2020, when the stricter emission norms kick in, will be a Y2K moment for the industry. "What will happen on Apr. 1  is hard to imagine."
He also talked about muted festive sales and the outlook of tractor sales.
International Finance Corporation's Atul Mehta noted that India has been one of the better performing markets for private equity investors. "India has been one of the better performing markets now. More recently for PE, you’ve seen more exits so investor are seeing you can not only get in but you can get out. We’re also seeing weeding out among the fund managers."