India Inc holds far more within its folds than what meets the eye. In the knowledge-driven global marketplace, where intangible assets such as intellectual property, brand, customer relationship and talent hold much more value than tangible 'visible' assets such as capital, land, building, factories et al, India emerges at the top of the podium, head and shoulders above all developed countries and blocs, barring the US and Switzerland.
Move over European Union, G8, Organisation of Economic Co-operation & Development countries and yes, even the BRIC grouping. India Inc takes a bow, not just as most 'intangible' amongst Asian economies, but as the number three economy in the world with the highest intangible component as a percentage of the total enterprise value (TEV) —value of disclosed and undisclosed tangible and intangible assets.
With an estimated intangible assets component of 74% (as proportion of TEV), India is just behind US (75%) and Switzerland (74%), according to Global Intangible Tracker 2007 (GIT), the most extensive global study ever on intangibles assets by the Londonbased Brand Finance Institute. GIT 2007, exclusive global break with ET, covered over 5,000 companies in 32 countries. For India, GIT considered the top 50 companies (by market cap) on the Bombay Stock Exchange. Global intangibles to TEV average is around 65%.
This partly reflects the dominance of the software sector in the Indian stock market. And with rapid growth in healthcare, personal care, pharma and biotechnology, the country's intellectual capital is poised for a big leap. It also sets the stage for Indian brands and companies to attain critical mass and pursue global trajectories, says the study.
Today, India's TEV of $365-billion (2006) accounts for a measly 0.8% of the global figure ($ 47.7-trillion), and tangible assets make up a small $96-billion of that. The rest constitute a massive wealth of $269-billion of disclosed and undisclosed intangible assets ($3-billion and $266-billion, respectively). And if the estimates for the first half of current year (HY 2007) are anything to go by, Indian economy with as high an intangible assets of $320.3-billion (up from $269-billion in 2006) could actually topple the top two economies on the intangible to TEV proportion parameter.
At the top of the heap amongst Asian economies, India leads China by far, with the latter's TEV showing 58% of intangible asset component. UAE comes third in Asia with 55% proportion of intangible assets in the economy. Other most intangible Asian economies include Japan (44%), Singapore (45%) and Taiwan (45%). Malaysia (43%) and South Korea (25%) remains at the bottom of the intangibles heap. As Indian economy grows, it is likely to increase the lead.
Interestingly, India Inc has in fact seen the proportion of its intangible assets soar since the beginning of this decade (2001) when it stood at just 56% of $75.1-billion TEV.
The GIT study assumes significance in the wake of changes in the accounting practices, which means that the valuation of intangible assets is now a boardroom issue and cannot be ignored. The ongoing GIT study has so far covered over 11,000 companies quoted in 32 countries over the last six year period. It demonstrates the importance of intangibles and highlights the significant rise in their value over a five-year period. “Even once commoditised sectors that were driven entirely by functional factors are moving rapidly up the ‘intangible value’ curve.” The companies had a TEV of $47.7 trillion at the end of 2006 of which $16.7 trillion represented tangible net assets and $5.9 trillion disclosed intangible assets. The remaining $25.1 trillion represents undisclosed value,” quotes the GIT 2007 study.
GIT 2007 is extensive in the sense it captures dominance of intangible assets across 50 industry sectors. Advertising, internet, software, healthcare services and cosmetics/personal care remain the top five sectors with the proportion of intangible assets to the total assets ranging between 90-97%. Biotechnology, healthcare products, media, computers and pharmaceuticals are the next big sectors rated high on intangibles. Forest products & paper and automobiles are the ones with lowest proportion of intangibles, under 30% of TEV