"IF anyone told us that we were not investing up north, in the last 12 months, we have been investing in Punjab," a delighted Keshub Mahindra, chairman of Rs 3,000-crore Mahindra & Mahindra Group, told his guests at the ground-breaking ceremony of its first SEZ at the Chandigarh IT Park.
That's not the only good news that Keshub Mahindra brought with him. After acquiring a 64.6% stake in Mohali-based Punjab Tractors Limited (PTL), he revealed that M&M is planning to pump in more funds in the company.
"We have already invested Rs 1,500 crore in PTL and we are looking forward to expand it. There will be pockets of investments. There will be expansion in the foundry side, utilization of capacity et al. We will pump in a couple of hundred crore over the next few years," he added.
Not specifying the amount of additional investment, Mahindra added that Rs 35 crore is being invested in the Mohali-based foundry as part of the first leg of expansion and investment. The focus would be on developing new tractors for the export market, overall product development, strengthening sales and marketing, business process reengineering and talent management.
Having another tractor plant in Rudrapur that has a higher production capacity than PTL, M&M is keen on keeping the brand name of PTL intact. "There are no thoughts of changing the brand name at the moment and we would like to keep the brand as such since it already has a sizeable market," he adds.
Considering the group company's inclination towards the IT sector in Chandigarh, Jaipur and Noida-an SEZ with IT components in each- the group is focusing on creating an employable talent pool.
"The nature of the IT industry is that if you look at any good IT company's balance sheet, it is making profits 30-40% on sales. Rupee appreciation and declining revenues from exports may make their margins go down to 20% but they'll survive. It does not need a special economic environment, it needs employable skills. There is tremendous shortage of what I call employable intelligence. There are hundreds of engineers but they are not worth employing. That's why we have our accent on updating education," says Mahindra.He added that the strategy to address the shortage of skilled manpower will be either by setting up new universities or accepting the offer by Governor of Punjab, Gen (retd) SF Rodrigue of partnering with existing educational institutions in Chandigarh.
The governor has proposed M&M to partner with citybased premier educational set ups like Punjab Engineering College and existing 132 private schools on a long-term basis. ET has learnt that the group is planning to launch Mahindra Institute of Technology across five locations in India. According to sources in the company, Mahindra Institute of Technology will be an independent entity, funded by the group. The MITs will be set up in key cities including Chandigarh, Jaipur, Pune, Chennai and Goa.
The group is reportedly in talks with Carnegie Mellon University for an international collaboration. Mahindra says, "We're looking at it. It's an expensive proposition since each university would cost no less than Rs 70 crore."
According to sources, 10-12 acres of land would be given to M&M for the university in the Education City project in Chandigarh. While in Goa, 50 acres of land has been finalized