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The Aditya Birla Group in Latin America

The Aditya Birla Group (ABG) came to Latin America later than the Tatas and Reliance. However, ABG has made up for lost time by emerging as the Indian company with the largest annual business turnover in Latin America – around $ 1.8 billion dollars last year. Birla is also the largest investor from the Indian private sector in Latin America.

Novelis Brazil, which is part of the Aditya Birla Novelis (with a global turnover of $ 11.1 billion dollars in 11 countries), had a turnover of $1.3 billion in 2012. ABG bought the global assets of Novelis in 2007 for $6 billion. Novelis Brazil has 2000 employees in their three aluminium plants in Brazil, at Pindamonhangaba and Santo Andre in Sao Paulo state, and Ouro Preto in Minas Gerais. They plan to invest over $300 million in these plants in the coming years to increase the production capacity.

The ABG has also started manufacturing carbon black with the company Columbian Chemicals Brazil. This too was part of an acquisition of the Atlanta-based Columbian Chemicals in 2011 for $875 million. This has made the Group the largest carbon black producer in the world, with production facilities in 12 countries. There are two plants in Brazil, one in Cubatão in Sao Paulo state and another in Camaçari in Bahia. The turnover of the two plants was $476 million last year. The plants are being modernised with new investment.

Aditya Birla Yarn Brazil is the market leader in supply of viscose yarn to Brazilian textile companies. The ABG is the world’s largest producer of Viscose Staple Fibre.

The three Indian giants (Tata, Reliance, and Birla) enrich three distinct sectors of Latin America and the growing Indo-Latin American business partnership. Tata is a leader in information technology and human resources development in Latin America, with 8000 Latin American staff in nine countries of the region. Reliance is the largest trader with the region accounting for a quarter of the total trade between India and Latin America. Birla is plugged into the industrial sector of Brazil and the region.

The products made in the five plants of the ABG are inputs which help the growth of Brazilian and Latin American industries in sectors such as packaging, automobiles, construction, chemicals, and tyre production.

The Group employs 2260 Brazilians, and has only one Indian in Brazil, Anil Jhala, the Latin America head of ABG. This is typical of Indian companies who believe in training and nurturing local Latin American talent. Jhala, sitting in his office in the World Trade Centre building of Sao Paulo, is upbeat about the long-term growth prospects of Brazil and the region, and is actively exploring opportunities for further investment in areas such as cement, fertilisers, insulators, cellulose, commercial forestry, plantations, commodity trading, and mining.

Ambassador Viswanathan is Distinguished Fellow, Latin America Studies, Gateway House. He is the former Indian Ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela, and Consul General in Sao Paulo. 

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