For an astute low-profile businessman, suddenly being in the limelight for making it to the top of India’s rich list may be a tough situation to handle. But for reticent billionaire Dilip Shanghvi, it’s a good place to be in. Over the years, he has built Sun Pharmaceuticals by carefully choosing lucrative segments and through a string of thoughtful acquisitions. The most recent one, the purchase of homegrown Ranbaxy from Daiichi Sankyo at a time when the company was wilting under regulatory heat, is again a well-timed move to consolidate his generics portfolio.
Shanghvi holding on to what he has created even as his peers cash out shows his confidence in the business, even as the Ranbaxy buyout had its element of surprise. Though there has always been synergy in everything that Shanghvi has executed thus far, it is his investment outside his core business that has piqued curiosity. The substantial investment in wind-turbine maker Suzlon is intriguing, to say the least. When the news first broke, speculation ranged from personal diversification to Shanghvi furthering son Aalok’s interest in renewable energy.
While we can’t read his mind or guess what the pharmaceutical tycoon may be thinking, it seems his investment in Suzlon is an opportunistic move. As our cover story outlines, Shanghvi has sensed the opportunity available for an investor in Suzlon at a time when the government is willing to bankroll non-renewable energy projects. Suzlon, too, is working on cleaning up its balance sheet and interest in clean energy continues to be high despite the current weak crude price.
That said, wind power companies in India have thrived because of government incentives and the surge in investments has been driven by high net worth individuals hungry for depreciation benefits rather than the noble thought of clean energy. That’s why investments in wind projects dwindled during the years in between, when the depreciation benefits were tapered. Shanghvi’s eventual next step not only with Suzlon but also his pharma business will be worth watching because it is highly unlikely that he is content with Sun Pharma being the world’s 5th largest specialty generic drugs company.