Western Union Launches India R&D, Tech Center

Englewood, CO-headquartered financial services and communications company, Western Union, announced the launch of its Western Union Technology Engineering Center (WUTEC) in Pune, 75 miles east of Mumbai, in the state of Maharashtra, India. The new research center will serve as Western Union’s innovation and engineering hub in the region.  It will focus on developing and building technology aimed at improving digital retail customer experiences around the globe.

“Innovation is hardwired in our DNA. As the company that invented the concept of digitizing money, Western Union is uniquely positioned at the intersection of money and technology. WUTEC India will join our other key technology centers across the world to expand the reach of our omnichannel platform, integrating our digital efforts with our iconic physical agent network to serve a vast global customer base,” said Hikmet Ersek, president and CEO of Western Union.

Picture of cash, calculator and laptop

“On the anniversary of 25 years of our service in India, this is a fitting start to a new chapter. We are extremely proud to have connected Indian diaspora from nearly every country in the world by enabling money movement to their families and loved ones,” added Ersek. “Over this time frame, Western Union has formalized money movement into urban, semi-urban and rural India, giving millions of consumers the assurance of receiving cash or money deposited directly into millions of bank accounts. This new tech center is the continuation of our transformation journey.”

January 31, 2018   No Comments

GM to Ramp Up Component and Passenger Vehicle Shipments from India

Detroit, Michigan-based General Motors which stopped manufacturing passenger vehicles for sale in India, is looking to ramp up component exports from India even as it continues to add new global markets for vehicle shipments from the country.

The company currently exports body panels and engines to Vietnam and Cambodia, and recently started exporting the Beat Notchback to Costa Rica. “Our exports have tripled [increased three times] over the past year and we are very pleased with the acceptance of our products in the export markets,” an official from the company said. In India, GM manufactures vehicles and components at its Talegoaon plant in the western state of Maharashtra.

In 2017, GM ranked 5th in India in terms of passenger vehicle exports. Its hatchback Beat was the highest exported passenger vehicle from India.

Chevrolet stering wheel

January 30, 2018   No Comments

Three of India’s States Consider Hyperloop Installations

In October, I blogged about Hyperloop Transportation Technologies first agreement with India’s eastern state of Andhra Pradesh‘s Economic Development Board, to facilitate the development of HTT’s Hyperloop Transportation System in the state.

In November, Los Angeles-based Virgin Hyperloop One entered into a partnership with the government of Maharashtra for exploring the possibility of connecting Mumbai and Pune with the hyperloop transportation system. The distance of 92 miles between the two cities would take just 14 minutes, a journey that currently takes up to three hours by car, reports BusinessLine.

Virgin Hyperloop One LogoVirgin Hyperloop One has also approached the government of the southern state of Karnataka to conduct a preliminary study to understand hyperloop’s feasibility and economic impact in the region. The state’s minister for IT, Priyank Kharge, said, “We are happy to partner with Virgin Hyperloop One for its preliminary study in our region and we hope to bring out some concrete solutions for the state swiftly.”

Nick Earle, senior vice president for global field operations, Virgin Hyperloop One, said, “India is one of the most important geographies for developing hyperloop networks and re-imagining the complete transportation system. With this preliminary study, we are excited to initiate the build-up of a strong foothold that we foresee in future throughout the state,” reports the Economic Times.

December 2, 2017   No Comments

India Improves Investor Appeal

You may want to take a fresh look at business opportunities and investments in India, if a new World Bank report is to be believed.

In November 2001, Goldman Sachs published a landmark paper where they identified India, along with Brazil, China, and Russia as the four “BRIC” economies that the world needed to watch. Many companies and investors began investing in these countries.

In 2002, the World Bank launched a project to rank the Ease of Doing Business in countries across the world. For well over a decade, more than 135 countries ranked better than the world’s largest democracy — India continued to be stymied by red tape, limited infrastructure and an army of bureaucrats who seemed to revel in creating complex, conflicting, and even arbitrary rules. India ranked worst among the BRICs and many companies mitigated their enthusiasm for India as a result. Persistent players such as Abbott, Accenture, Boeing, Coca Cola, Cummins, Deloitte, Exxon Mobil, GE, Hewlett Packard, Mylan, Oracle, PepsiCo, Vodafone and Western Union thrived despite some setbacks.

In our consulting, we always advised clients to look at specific Indian states, rather than the entire subcontinent when locating sales offices, subsidiaries, or manufacturing plants; some states welcomed businesses while others did not care. For the first time in India’s 67-year-old democracy, the leader (Chief Minister) of a state was elected as Prime Minister in 2014. One of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first goals was to improve India’s business environment.

The latest report from the World Bank, “Doing Business 2018“, published this week, shows that India made important reforms in six of the eight areas that the Bank measures for its report. Small economies can pass reforms relatively easily and it is important to note that Nigeria and India are the only large economies to make significant improvements as shown in this table:

Table

To global companies and investors, it is even more important to note that India jumped by 30 ranks overall to go from 130 to 100 and leapfrogged over Brazil, which is stagnant at 125. Such an improvement in just three years since the new government took over is quite remarkable. The juggernaut of the BRIC countries is China and it is currently ranked at 78. If Modi’s government can keep up the momentum, it is not inconceivable that India might vault ahead of its autocratic neighbor in three to five years.

We often help clients to start a new company or office in India and that process has improved considerably. Getting credit and obtaining construction permits for a business has also become easier according to the World Bank’s research. Minority foreign investors in India felt vulnerable in the past but new procedures protect them a bit better while enforcing contracts might also become easier once the new National Judicial Data Grid starts paying results. Paying taxes electronically is becoming the norm and import of goods is being streamlined with more and more online functions for customs clearance.

Does this mean that India is an easy place to do business now? Not at all. The World Bank only measures a few criteria. Foreign companies have many challenges in India: the weather, the pollution, the current government’s tendency to place non- tariff barriers, even occasional price controls, and most importantly the illusion that they can readily understand India, just because they can understand their Indian-American physician.

Skeptics may ask, will progress continue? What if Modi’s party loses the next general election, scheduled in 2019? One major initiative that cannot be rolled back is that the states of India were encouraged to compete with each other for foreign and domestic investment. State leaders in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and at least seven other provinces and territories have led the charge in improving their own attractiveness. This genie cannot be put back in the bottle and we anticipate that up to 20 of India’s 29 states will join the race shortly.

If you have questions about how your company can do better in India or if you want to take a fresh look, Contact Us or drop me a note here on Linked In.

November 2, 2017   No Comments

Dassault Brings Largest Defense FDI to India

Dassault will emerge as the single largest FDI investor in the defense sector. The cumulative FDI in the defense sector in India till date is $6 million,” Rajesh K. Dhingra, president, Reliance Defense & Aerospace, said at an interview with the Economic Times.

France’s Dassault will manufacture a significant part of Rafale aircraft in India. The first tranche of $29 million  intended for the manufacture of aircraft components for global markets is likely to come into the Dassault-Reliance Aerospace Limited joint venture by July. The investment is part of Dassault’s obligations on Make in India commitments against the $9 billion Rafale fighter jet deal.

Rafale Jet

The JV will create infrastructure at the Mihan facility in the state of Maharashtra. The plan is to set up a 100-acre facility that will integrate a supply chain for the Rafale fighter jet in India. The ground breaking ceremony is planned for the end of July.

June 9, 2017   No Comments