HCL plans expansion in Mena

A quarter to a billion dollars will normally run in the first five years. (AFP)

HCL Technologies, one of the bellwether IT players of India, plans to invest close to $250 million (Dh918m) in the next five years to expand its business across the Middle East, a top official of the company said yesterday.

"A quarter to a billion dollars will normally run in the first five years. This is what we've budgeted for in our expansion plans. Mena is a high-potential region and the economy size is same as India. We're seeing growth in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar," Shiv Nadar, Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer, HCL Technologies, told Emirates Business. He said although the contribution of the region to HCL's overall turnover is small, it remains on the firm's expansion radar owing to its growth potential.

"In the past five years, our business has grown from $730m in 2005 to $2.7 billion in 2009, growing by almost four times. However, in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, we did between $20m and $25m of business from this region, amounting to one per cent of our total business," he said.

The United States remains the largest market for the firm despite the slowdown, generating 55 per cent of its business. Yesterday, HCL Technologies also announced the opening of its regional headquarters for Middle East operations in Dubai. The company already has physical offices in Jeddah, Riyadh, Kuwait and Qatar, but they are not legal entities or incorporated companies.

The firm, however, is an incorporated company in Dubai and has filed papers for the status of an incorporated company in Saudi Arabia. HCL is also going to open offices in Bahrain and Egypt shortly, said Nadar.

"In terms of industry vertical, we'll focus on banking, government sector in select countries such as in UAE, telecom, aviation (especially MRO business), and family conglomerates," he said when asked which sectors the firm is going to focus on in this market. "In terms of business areas, our largest business revenue source is Oracle application related business, cloud computing, infrastructure services business, and SAP business. We're also pitching in some specific IT solutions for sectors such as banking, insurance and telecom billing-related solutions," he said.

Asked whether he has plans to tap into the emerging BPO sector in this region, Nadar said: "A call centre has to be local and socially compatible. Setting up a BPO centre is not on the drawing board, but we may evaluate this option."

Setting up an R&D centre in the region is also not part of the company's plans at the moment, he said.

"Semiconductor design is a very narrow discipline and the industry itself should be large enough in a location. So we'll have to wait for its maturity," said Nadar.

 

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