Diversified conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra is embarking on a major expansion drive for its range of businesses in Sri Lanka, the largest vehicle export market for the group, by foraying into two-wheeler and aviation segments.

The group is also keen on exploring possibilities in financing, hospitality, housing and IT sectors.

The group, which has already sold its first aircraft in Sri Lanka and will launch its scooters by the end of this year, is undergoing a brand-building exercise in the country by joining hands with Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) as the title sponsor for the first edition of the tournament.

“We are not looking at Sri Lanka through the prism of only one business, but as an integrated part of the group. For Mahindra, Sri Lanka is a complete strategic fit for our entire range of businesses,” Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) President (Group Strategy) and Chief Brand Officer S.P. Shukla told PTI here.

When asked if it will continue its association with SLPL in future, Shukla said: “We cannot talk about contractual terms... Our sponsorship of the SLPL signals our intent to both expand and deepen our relationship with the country as it moves steadily towards greater economic progress.”

On M&M’s planned investment and revenue target from Sri Lanka, he said: “Every business has its own target. It is difficult to talk about any specific target revenue or investment.”

Foray into 2-wheeler market

Elaborating on its future plans, Shukla, who is also the Mahindra Group Executive Board Member, said the Indian entity will foray into the Sri Lankan two-wheeler market by the end of this year.

“We will enter in a big way. Our entry into the passenger segment will be by first launching the scooters and then we will introduce our motorcycles,” he said, adding that all the products will be imported from India to Sri Lanka, which is at present the company’s largest export market.

Ideal Group, Mahindra’s partner in Sri Lanka, will sell the two-wheelers here. At present, M&M sells its range of commercial vehicles through Ideal Motors, besides joining hands with the group for the aviation sector.

Shukla said Mahindra Aerospace’s subsidiary Gipps Aero has sold its first small aircraft, GA8 Airvan, in Sri Lanka. The company has appointed Ideal Favourite Aviation as its marketing, sales and service representative in the country.

Financing business

When asked about the financing business, Shukla said: “We are seriously evaluating possibilities to launch our financial businesses here. We are exploring all options whether to go solo or form a joint venture or just a tie-up with a local partner.”

He, however, declined to share any time-line to introduce the business in the neighbouring country saying that individual companies will take the decisions for launching their products here.

M&M Financial Services initially plans to finance only Mahindra range of vehicles in Sri Lanka with focus in smaller towns and rural areas.

Over a period of time, it plans to expand its range by offering housing loans and introducing insurance broking services as well.

Hospitality sector

Talking about its plans in the hospitality division, Shukla said: “Mahindra Holidays & Resorts has been looking at several properties and discussions are going on for several months. If any of the properties fits in, then the company will take a decision.”

He further said the IT divisions — Mahindra Satyam and Tech Mahindra — are also looking at identifying clients in Sri Lanka.

M&M’s investment arm Mahindra Partners Managing Partner Zhooben Bhiwandiwala said the company is planning to launch low-cost housing solutions in Sri Lanka, but did not share details

(This article was published on September 2, 2012)
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