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Siemens gung-ho; to invest $500 million

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Dr Heinrich von Pierer, President & CEO, Siemens AG, with Mr J. Schubert, MD, Siemens India, at a press conference in the Capital on Wednesday.

NEW DELHI, March 6

UNFAZED by the controversies over the Enron-promoted Dabhol power project, diversified corporate giant Siemens AG on Friday said it would invest $500 million in India in the coming years to expand its already wide presence in the country.

The pace of investment which would go into, among other things, power, IT, telecom and medical sectors would hinge on the speed of economic growth of the country, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Germany's Siemens AG, Dr Heinrich von Pierer, said.

"Do not generalise the Enron case. I am not willing to generalise the experience of other companies. We have good experiences with our investments and the faster the economy grows, the faster we will invest,'' Dr von Pierer told a press conference.

He also dismissed chances of "higher risk'' in investing in India after the Enron imbroglio which threatened to dampen sentiments of foreign investors in the country.

Publicly-listed Siemens Ltd, a 54.63 per cent subsidiary of the German company, is diversified into energy, industry, medical equipment, IT, lighting, communication and transportation sectors.

It has so far invested Rs 1,600 crore in India and has supplied equipment to various power plants.

The investment would bolster its presence in the IT sector, where Siemens currently operates through a software development centre employing over 2,000 professionals in Bangalore.

The software developed by this centre will now be sourced internationally for the needs of Siemens AG, in the automotive, medical and other sectors.

"We will source more hardware from India like circuit breakers and step up exports,'' he said.

"We aim to be the premium infrastructure partner in Asia and India is an important part of that,'' Dr von Pierer said after holding a board meeting of Siemens AG in India for the first time.

He said that Siemens was bullish on the mobile phones market in India, expected to grow 70 per cent in 2002 from the current base of 5.5 million.

"Even at this volume, we do not think it is a viable option to invest in a mobile phone manufacturing business in India,'' he said on the occasion of the 80th year of operations of the Rs 3,200-crore Siemens in India.

Dr von Pierer said that the company would invest in medical equipment and also take an equity stake in the proposed new international airport at Bangalore, in association with the Karnataka Government.

Siemens, which has 12 subsidiaries in India, would also explore the idea of "business process outsourcing'' from India, like the international call centre operated by its rival GE from near New Delhi.

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