The global scenario
The year 2014-15 continued to be a challenging year. The global economy
growth was 3.4%, unchanged over the previous year. The world''s largest
economy, the US saw better growth, while the countries in the Euro zone
registered marginal growth. There was a marked slowdown in China, and
Japan witnessed near stagnation.
The key factors that affected the global economy included a steep
decline in oil and commodity prices, and monetary easing by central
banks in the US, EU and Japan. The global financial markets
experienced heightened volatility, largely due to expectations of a
tightening of monetary policy by the US Federal Reserve. The impasse on
resolving the debt crisis in Greece added to the uncertainty.
Geopolitical risks compounded the situation.
The IMF has projected economic growth at 3.3% in 2015, marginally lower
than the growth recorded in 2014.
The domestic scenario
Among all the developing economies, India was a notable exception, with
growth increasing to 7.3% in 2014. Agriculture recorded a growth of
only 0.2%, given the subnormal monsoon. This was compensated by a more
vigorous manufacturing sector, which grew at 7.1% in FY2014-15,
compared to 5.3% in FY2013-14. Headline inflation fell sharply to 5%.
On the external front, India''s vulnerability has reduced with the
current account deficit contained at below 2% of GDP and a relatively
stable currency. The monetary policy through the year was largely
A slew of initiatives reinforced the positive macro factors. One must
particularly mention the deregulation of diesel prices, reforms in the
coal and mineral sectors, measures to boost FDI, and faster
environmental clearances. The buoyant investor sentiment was manifest
in capital inflows of $73 billion. As infrastructure projects get off
the ground, the prospects for a revival of the capital investment cycle
seem very strong.
Your Company''s performance
Your Company attained a consolidated turnover of $ 4.4 billion (Rs.
26,516 Crore) and an EBITDA of $ 966 million (Rs. 5,798 Crore) a surge
I am pleased to inform you that your Company enjoys the edge in
practically all of its businesses.
Today, with a diversified portfolio of 10 businesses, our Aditya Birla
Financial Services Group (ABFSG) is truly a significant non-bank
financial services player. It is among the top 5 fund managers in India
(excluding LIC) and one of the largest participants in the debt market.
Financial Services have delivered solid results across businesses.
Its Assets Under Management grew to $ 27.5 billion (Rs. 165,000 Crore),
representing a year-on-year growth of 35%. Its lending book extended
year-on-year by 52% and closed at $ 3 billion approximately (Rs. 17,550
Crore). Its revenues stand at $ 1.3 billion (Rs. 7,926 Crore),
representing a year-on-year growth of 19%, while EBIDTA recorded a
growth of 17%, to reach USD 141 million (Rs. 849 Crore).
A slew of initiatives launched focus on ?
- Commencing the housing finance business
- Entering the Health insurance and Wellness business towards which the
business has signed a definitive Joint Venture agreement with MMI
Holdings Ltd., a leading South African insurance based financial
- Obtaining PFRDA approval for managing pension assets under the NPS
- Roping in IFC, Washington as its strategic investment partner in
- Completing the acquisition of the mutual fund schemes and portfolio
accounts of ING investment management.
Fashion & Lifestyle
Our Company''s apparel retail businesses ? Madura Fashion & Lifestyle
(MFL), and Pantaloons Fashion & Retail Ltd. (PFRL) together have
catapulted your Company to the number one branded apparel retail player
in the country.
A major development was our corporate restructuring plan merging Madura
with Pantaloons. This has spawned India''s single largest pure play
fashion apparel entity ? Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited.
Moving on to the business performance, MFL stayed well ahead of the
industry in terms of revenue growth of 16% to USD 622 million (Rs.
3,735 Crore) with EBITDA up by 19% to USD 77 million (Rs. 463 Crore).
MFL''s largest brand, Louis Philippe crossed the Rs. 10 billion revenue
mark, the first apparel brand in the country to reach this level.
The business transformation begun at Pantaloons, after it came into our
fold, has been completed. Pantaloons attained revenues of USD 308
million (Rs. 1,851 Crore), up by 11% and its EBITDA soared by 96% on a
year-on-year basis. The launch of six new brands bolstered Pantaloons
portfolio of own brands. Collectively these account for 52% of the
overall revenue and helped drive margin improvement. The setting- up of
25 new stores accelerated its customer access, with the store count now
In the telecom sector, Idea continues to make waves. It has maintained
its enviable track record as the fastest growing Indian mobile
operator. Its performance has been splendid. It delivered a 19%
revenue growth at $ 5.3 billion (Rs. 31,527 Crore) with a 32% rise in
EBIDTA at $ 1.9 billion (Rs. 11,281 Crore).
As many of you know, India is on the cusp of a digital revolution.
Internet is expected to pervade the lives of a billion Indians in the
next decade from a current low penetration of 20% online. From commerce
to banking to entertainment to health everything will go online. I
believe, the mobile industry has the onerous task to build the Indian
Internet infrastructure backbone. Idea is well poised to take advantage
of this megatrend to further accelerate its profitable growth. During
the last two spectrum auctions, Idea committed $ 6.8 billion (Rs.
41,000 Crore) increasing its spectrum portfolio to 270.7 MHz. Today,
Idea has the ability to offer 3G services to 80% of its own subscribers
and 4G services to 60% of its 161 million subscribers base, besides
offering Pan India 2G services.
Divisions: Agri, Rayon, Linen and Insulators
The divisions of your Company, comprising of the Agri, Rayon, Linen and
Insulators businesses, have done well. These clocked a collective
revenue of $ 901 million (Rs. 5,405 Crore) and an EBIDTA at $ 102
million (Rs. 615 Crore), a year-on-year growth of 9% and 11%
In a year when the country was highly rain deficient in most regions,
your Company''s Agri business registered a healthy growth of 90% over
the last financial year, which is indeed applaudable. The business is
now a ''Total Agri Solutions Provider'', offering a bouquet of products
from fertilisers to seeds to agrochemicals to specialities that fulfil
every need of the farmer, from sowing to harvesting.
The VFY business performed in the face of poor demand from the textile
sector, reaping the benefits from incremental revenue through the ENKA
acquisition. It is today the largest player in the premium superfine
denier market in India.
In the Textiles sector, the linen business continues to be on top of
the league. It has created its own line of linen apparel and launched
these under the brand name of ''Linen Club''. In the four Southern
states where it has set-up flagship stores, the response has been
overwhelmingly positive. We will soon be doubling its linen yarn
capacity to reach 6,200 tpa from current 3,400 tpa.
On the Insulator business'' radar is an unrelenting focus on yield
improvement and increasing its export sales.
All of your Company''s businesses are poised for higher growth, given
the upturn in the economy. Your Company''s balance sheet is strong. It
will continue to play the role of a business incubator, nurture new
businesses in sectors that offer promise, and alongside leverage
opportunities across its current portfolio.
To our teams
I would like to acknowledge the contribution of our teams in India and
across the world. I believe, it is our people, who underpin everything
else. They are the ultimate reason why we meet with success, in the
face of all odds, year after year. Their commitment and dedication is
The Aditya Birla Group: In perspective
We have had a good year at the Group level. Our Group''s consolidated
revenue crossed the Rs. 2.5 trillion mark, setting a new milestone. We
are up 9% over the last year. In dollar terms as well, regardless of
the ups and downs in foreign currency, we reported revenues of $ 41
billion, an 8% rise. Over 50% of our Group''s revenues flow in from our
I believe, that the bottom line and the cash in the till is a greater
parameter to gauge performance rather than simply revenues. On this
score too, we have done well.
Our EBIDTA in Rupee terms is an impressive Rs. 322 billion, again over
9% vis-?-vis FY14. In dollar terms, we achieved an EBIDTA of $ 5.25
billion, reflecting an 8% rise over that of the last year.
I deeply believe that building our future can only be possible by
building more leaders and through people development processes. Towards
this, our endeavours continue to deliver results. Two of our programmes
deserve a special mention. "Cutting Edge" ? our leadership programme
targeted at developing P&L leaders and "Turning Point" ? aimed at
building cost centre leaders and unit heads, have proved very
promising. Over 70 talented managers have graduated from these
programmes and have taken on leadership roles at senior levels.
At the same time our senior leaders are being actively encouraged to
take on cross business roles to gain multi- sectoral experience.
We have a bench strength of over 250 youngsters who joined us 5 years
ago as Group Management Trainees, and Leadership Associate Programme
(Lead) and Leadership Programme for Experienced (Leap) members have
demonstrated great potential and grown significantly. Some of them are
already in key positions. I hope to see many of them occupy positions
of critical importance in our businesses in the near future. As part of
our globalisation agenda, we have also been recruiting both interns and
Lead and Leap participants from renowned International Business
Similarly, our GMLP ? Global Manufacturing Leadership Programme, aimed
at reinforcing our technical and manufacturing strength, is paying a
rich dividend. The Aditya Birla Group is being increasingly viewed as
the most aspirational place for manufacturing professionals in India.
Our focus on gender diversity and creating enabling policies and
programmes to ensure that we provide a conducive, encouraging and an
equitable place for women to thrive and excel is gaining momentum. We
have launched "Spring Board", the accelerated women''s leadership
development programme, designed for high calibre women managers.
Currently, we have more than 150 women positioned at middle management
and senior management levels.
Gyanodaya, our in-house world-class university, has aligned with the
best-in-class global business schools, professors and consultants among
others. Many of our best talent is also enlisted for short-term courses
at these institutions. Such a cross pollination and stoking of the
intellect enables us move with the times and are continuously learning.
Ranked No. 1 in the Nielsen Corporate Image Monitor
We are humbled that for the third year running, our Group has been
ranked No.1 in the Nielsen Corporate Image Monitor 2014-15. We have
emerged as ''Best in Class'' across most of the pillars. This is a
remarkable vote of confidence by the stakeholder constituency in our
leadership teams. It is a testament to our "Group brand, governance
standards, transparency, customer primacy and CSR engagement. The six
pillars of Corporate Image, on which organisations are engaged,
comprise of Vision and Leadership, Product & Service quality, Workplace
Management, Financia Performance, Operating style and Social
Nielsen''s Corporate Image Monitor measures the reputation of the 42
leading companies in India across sectors (based on the Bombay Stock
Exchange list and the Economic Times Ranked Top 50 Companies) and "the
findings serve as an important indicator of the strength of the
We are gearing to ensure that we have the right talent at the right
time and at the right place for each of our businesses. Additionally,
enhancing customer centricity and excellence capability by developing
customer value propositions that are unmatched, stepping up the focus
on R&D to increase the share of value-added products across businesses
are our focus areas. The thrust on digitisation across our business
processes and using analytics and big data continue. These are our
steps towards accelerating top-line and bottom-line growth and
enhancing stakeholder value.
Kumar Mangalam Birla