General Electric Chief Executive Betting On India For Long-Term Growth

The chief executive of General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt, said May 26, that India is ripe for sales of medical equipment, jet engines and power plants after making money from its pool of highly-skilled labor.

"In the past, anytime we invested in the people of India, we made a lot of money and anytime we invested in the market of India, we lost. We now need to be as bold on the market side" said Immelt, chief executive and chairman of GE at a meeting of industrialists.

GE was in the forefront of tapping India's large English-speaking population for outsourcing services. It has around 30 businesses in India ranging from aircraft engines, financial services, health and lighting technologies. Now it is focused on selling jet engines to India's growing aviation market as well as healthcare and power plant equipment to consumers and companies in Asia's fourth largest economy Immelt said.

However, Immelt noted that GE has had trouble with the largest direct foreign investment project in India, the $3.0 billion Dabhol power project in western India, which shut down in 2002 after a dispute. GE along with Bechtel controls 85% in Dabhol and is in negotiations with foreign and Indian lenders as well as the Indian and U.S. governments to restart the project to ease a severe power shortage in the western state of Maharastra.

The company said it would also sell medical equipment to a leading Indian heart surgeon, Naresh Trehan, for a sophisticated diagnostic and research centrr called Medicity to be set up on the outskirts of New Delhi. Immelt said GE would provide the technical expertise and high-end diagnostic tools, while the $250 million investment required in the project comes from Trehan.

The company also said it is eager to provide jet engines for a large number of planes ordered by Indian airlines, including several new budget carriers.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005

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