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BW Businessworld

Going Beyond Goals

Here’s why words like foresight and proactiveness are associated with Kumar Mangalam Birla

Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma

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For Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of the $43-billion multinational Aditya Birla Group, 2017 has been noteworthy. It was on 20 March 2017, the fag end of the fiscal, when he announced the mega merger between his telecom firm Idea Cellular and Vodafone India to take on Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio that entered the market in 2016.

Almost a year on, the deal received an approval from National Company Law Tribunal. Currently, all eyes are on the merged entity and the key question on people’s mind: When will it start operations?

“The two companies will combine their operations in India (excluding Vodafone’s 42 per cent stake in Indus Towers) to create India’s largest telecom operator,” said Birla, in a letter addressed to his shareholders in the company’s latest annual report. “I believe to drive business growth in a sustainable manner…” he added.

Says Deven R. Choksey, Managing Director at KRChoksey Investment Managers, “The Birla Group’s alertness is commendable. It is apparent from the way it navigated the challenges and orchestrated the merger amidst the changing telecom landscape in the country.”

In the past, too, Birla did not refrain from taking bold ‘inorganic’ decisions, points out Choksey. When the group acquired Novelis, a global metals major, in 2007, it was a landmark deal that stoked a higher level of interest in the country. Apart from telecom, the Aditya Birla Group’s businesses are spread across a slew of industries such as cement, textiles, financial services, among others. The group operates in 36 countries and over 50 per cent of its revenues flow from overseas destinations. During the fiscal ended March 2017, Birla’s net worth jumped 44 per cent to Rs 146,153 crore from Rs 101,205 crore in 2016. At a group level, the performance both in terms of revenue and earnings has been growing. In fact, its Ebidta has been the highest ever.

Birla took over as Chairman of the Group in 1995, at the age of 28, after the untimely demise of his father and, since then, he has raised the group’s turnover from $2 billion in 1995, to $43 billion today.