Kolkata (KOAA): At a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to bring French railway expertise into India, a Kolkata-based Indian company has made a name for itself in France by not only reviving but turning a struggling French railway wagon company it acquired into a profitable venture.
Titagarh France may not be as well known in India as the big Indian names of Tata Group, Sintex or Mittal Steel that have major acquisitions in France, but the wagon maker has quietly notched up admiration for the Douai, France, located firm that supplies its wagons to many European and African countries.
The French company is a 100 percent subsidiary of Kolkata-based Titagarh Wagons Ltd.
“We acquired this unit out of bankruptcy in July 2010, and have been fortunate enough to succeed in turning it around,” Umesh Chowdhary, Titagarh Wagons Vice Chairman and Managing Director, told in an interview.
“From an initial annual revenue of euro 2 million, after we took over we have crossed euro 45 million last year. The company has turned profitable and the French government has recognized us for our straight-forward approach and hard work, ” Chowdhary said.
He added that he was awarded the medallion of the “Knight in the national order of merit” by French President Francois Hollande late last year.
With Prime Minister Modi pushing investment in the railways as part of his Make in India initiative, Chowdhary said Titagarh France would be “very happy” to bring to India its technology. “Our French subsidiary possesses a very high degree of intellectual property.”
During Modi’s visit to France April 9-11, the Ministry of Railways inked a memorandum of understanding with its French counterpart for semi-high speed trains and station renovation.
Chowdhary said his Indian firm supplies wagons in India and it has the “largest capacity in the country”. “We do believe there is a large scope for technical upgradation and if the Indian Railway desires, we will be most happy to work with them to bring the French designs and technology to India,” Chowdhary said.
Titagarh Wagons bought Arbel Fauvet Rail, which enjoyed a niche position in the market for its specialized wagons but fell to bad times due to the eurozone crisis in 2007.
Dominique Frachon, managing director, Invest In France division, Business France India, told that Indian firms that invest in France are able to leverage the technological expertise, R&D and experience of their French acquisitions “in their own activities in India, which is the best example of Make in India”.
Among some other successful Indian acquisitions in France are Tata Steel Europe and TCS, run by the Tata Group, Sintex France, owned by the Sintex Group, Havells Sylvania France, Motherson Sumi and United Phosphorus.
Among the prominent acquisition in 2014 are by Mahindra and Mahindra, which bought Peugeot Scooters, Bharat Forge, which acquired Mecanique Generale Langroise (MGL), and Crompton Greaves, which has set up a smart grid facility in France that makes meters