Tuesday, December 4

Mahindra to use weak dollar to buy US factories

WASHINGTON: Anand G Mahindra, CEO of India's $6 billion Mahindra Group, intends to use the weak US dollar to buy manufacturing plants in "bargain basement" America, according to Newsweek magazine. For an Indian businessman, the biggest opportunity is to buy manufacturing assets in America, which is not a manufacturing country, the 52-year-old Harvard Business School graduate told the US weekly on a recent trip to New York. "But funnily enough, the US dollar plummeting makes the US competitive again. With the low currency, US manufacturing assets are bound to have huge export opportunities again," the magazine quotes him as saying in its forthcoming Dec 10 issue. "For India to go global is not to export - until the currency turns around - but to go look for assets. There's going to be a tsunami of investment in American manufacturing assets," Mahindra said. However, he saw the appreciating rupee as "one of the greatest threats to the Indian economy." "It has appreciated prematurely. We're still a poor country posturing with an affluent currency: we needed to have time to build up exports, to build up competitiveness and not have it cut away in advance simply because funds are flowing in" Mahindra said. Asked how it affected his acquisitions, Mahindra said they "become easier". But the traditional US automotive centre "Detroit is not necessarily the best place, but it could have a renaissance. "Who knows? But America is a free market: different states woo you with tax packages. When we invested in Georgia, we got amazing tax breaks." About expansions in the works, Mahindra said, "With Indians' affinity for America, it's time to look for hospitality assets here. America is today's land of opportunity." "With its currency problems, with its economy going south, America is suddenly a bargain basement for manufacturing. With foreign involvement of Indian companies, this could lead to a renewal of investment in America's maligned manufacturing assets and hence to an investment tsunami. "It's a good way for Indians to go global: I'm looking at the subprime crisis as an Indian businessman," Mahindra was quoted as saying by Newsweek. On China, Mahindra said, "China is the best thing that happened to India. Now we can say to our politicians, 'Look, this is our competition, this is what they're doing. Why aren't we?' "It's something to whip up our competitiveness. China is the benchmark; it becomes the touchstone for everything. For a country that invented yoga, the science of stretching, we just didn't stretch ourselves."

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