Bruno Francois Boccard, President & CEO, Boccard S.A.
Boccard formally launched India operations in last year. What took so long?
We opened a company called Boccard India in September. The opportunity came about when we took over the operations of Areva Bioenergy in Chennai. That gave us the means to enter the market. We have been present in the India through services and products from our companies such as the Belgium-based Meura, a leading player in the beer industry. It has been very active in the brewery industry here. We are convinced India is the future industrial market for us. But from 1918, when Boccard was started by my great grandfather, it has taken us 99 years to enter here because we wanted to come fully prepared. We didn't want to enter the market without the best solutions, products and services. Today, we feel that the marriage between what we have to offer and the team we took over should give us the means to be successful in this market.
What segments of the economy excite you the most?
If we look at the domestic Indian market, there are two sectors that would be expanding fast. The first is the nuclear market. Back in February, there were talks with EDF Energy to explore opportunities for the construction of six EPR nuclear reactors (Areva's EPR is a third generation pressurised water reactor design). Talks are currently underway between the French and Indian governments, and EDF. We feel that the six reactors hold a huge opportunity for us. We will be able to respond to their construction with our local partners. We have been awarded the contract for the next two EPR reactors in the UK. In terms of size and volumes, nuclear is going to be critical for us. The second one is the biotech market. We feel that emerging companies from India will storm the market and we want to partner in their growth. Our slogan at Boccard is "Alliance for success".
Are you looking at providing solutions to firms in conventional and renewable energy space?
The acquisition of Areva has brought us new technology. We feel this is also an ingredient in the energy mix of India and its neighbouring countries. We are going to be packaging very innovative and competitive biomass power plants to provide solutions for the Indian and international market.
Are there plans to expand your footprint through local partnership?
One of the key aspects is to understand who are the leading players in all the eight markets that we are in and then try to strengthen our solutions with local partners. For industry, we are in talks with Larsen & Toubro. It is going to be a critical partnership for nuclear and oil and gas. Then we are in talks with Praj for a partnership in beer and bio-ethanol. We have been speaking to Biocon for a partnership in bio-technology. It is going to be a critical partner not only in India but abroad.
What kind of investment are you looking at making in the Indian market initially?
We will be making two types of investments. First, there is the intellectual investment, where we will be training and transferring know-how. That's a very critical component. Also, there is asset investment. So far, we haven't finalised our business plan, but it is going to be very substantial if we are awarded the contract for upcoming six nuclear reactors.
Any proposal to increase your headcount here?
That's going to be necessary as we can't build nuclear or any other kind of plants without good quality employees.
What in your view sets India apart from the other markets where you have presence?
India is a growing market and the sheer size of the population makes it that. It provides you access to a huge demand market. Besides, we can also use Boccard India's presence here for the region. The resources available in engineering and technical solutions are absolutely incredible and we want to capitalise on them.
Any plans to foray into food processing, dairy and healthcare here, areas where you are quite strong globally?
Absolutely! We are going to follow first our key partner like Danone. Then we are also going to try to meet the needs of Indian clients in those industries.
- MANISH PANT