Itochu Corporation of Japan, a $100-billion trading giant, is set to spread its wings in India. It is eyeing opportunities in service-related areas like retail and innovative technologies, such as nanotechnology, biotechnology and environmental technologies. At the same time, the company plans to beef up its activities in infrastructure projects.
"We are ready for new arrangements. (When India opens up its retail sector) we will definitely have an interest in it. Our business in India is just above 1 per cent of our total sales ($100 billion). We expect very rapid growth," Itochu's global CEO Eizo Kobayashi told Business Standard.
On his maiden visit to India after taking over as CEO of Itochu last year, Kobayashi has met as many as 10 local companies in the past two days to explore partnerships in various areas.
Itochu expects its business in India to jump from $1.25 billion to $2 billion "in the short term" as it sharpens its focus on the country as part of its global programme, Frontier 2006.
Under the programme, which runs from April this year to March 2007, Itochu has earmarked $2 billion to be invested in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
Of this, the lion's share may go to China and India. "As a part of Frontier 2006, we have to achieve the two goals of aggressive business and solid management. Under aggressive business, we have to expand our activities in India and China," Kobayashi said, adding that Itochu's focus, like many other Japanese companies, was, to an extent, shifting from China to India.
According to Kobayashi, a clear order has emerged among the BRIC countries. China is acknowledged as having manufacturing competence while Russia and Brazil are considered rich in natural resources."India is more complex, with over 50 per cent of its GDP (gross domestic product) coming from services," he said.