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business | IST

Focused on organic growth, fortunate to count India as important part of GE, says CEO Larry Culp

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We are optimistic about our business prospects in India, we think we have a role to play not only in terms of growing our business but also tackling the challenges and the opportunities that India has in front of it, said Larry Culp, Chairman and CEO, General Electric.

General Electric (GE) has been in India since the turn of the 20th century, with a presence in power generation, financial services, healthcare and aviation. Currently, it has 15 manufacturing factories in the country across aviation, power, renewable energy and healthcare equipment.
GE’s partnership with Wipro, that was started by Azim Premji and Jack Welch, has lasted 31 years. More recently, the company has been running a health-tech startup accelerator in India, through which it has mentored 17 health-tech startups and has helped them to scale up.
Larry Culp, who took over as chairman and CEO in 2018, has been leading a transformation at the company with a focus on sustainable aviation, precision healthcare, and clean energy.
To talk in detail about the outlook for GE going forward in all its business segments, and also about it sees the global recovery playing out, CNBC-TV18 caught up with Larry Culp.
Culp said, “I do think that we feel good about the overall recovery as we look across the GE portfolio today. Obviously, most eyes are on the recovery in aviation. We see global departures down as of this morning 26 percent versus the same time in 2019 but that said, we have seen a gradual return, particularly here in the US and parts of Europe as well. That is good for the industry and good for our service business. Certainly, the broader transpacific, transatlantic routes are slowly coming back. We are optimistic given the pace and the momentum that we see building.”
Healthcare has been a standout for them through the course of this pandemic, said Culp. “We were hit early on, as hospitals paused to care for those impacted by COVID-19. But we've certainly seen a modernisation effort both in the private and public sectors ever since,” he added.
“In renewables, we have seen significant interest in our on and offshore wind businesses, let alone in our grid infrastructure business,” he said, adding that in the power segment, the gas business has been steady as people recognise that gas has an important role to play in supporting renewables through the energy transition.
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However, GE is grappling with supply chain issues, given the spike in demand. But those are short-term operating challenges, said Culp, sounding hopeful about the medium to long term.
When asked what the broad call was for the healthcare business, he said looking ahead, GE is talking about a business with a $17 billion revenue base. It has been profitably growing in the last several quarters. If we look at what we do in India and around the world, we are at the centre of the precision health revolution. That is fundamentally geared towards driving improved outcomes by tailoring diagnostics, and related therapeutics to individuals to the fullest extent possible.
That is not only good for patients but also for providers, particularly with respect to their economics, he said, adding that most providers in India or elsewhere, be it public or private, see a productivity challenge in the years ahead. A lot of what we do, not only in core hardware products but increasingly in software and AI, is going to help drive those results, he said.
Talking about investments, he said, GE would like to start out with organic investments, and then earn the right to invest inorganically. “There is no question that we are looking to localise our footprint and accelerate our R&D, across a range of modalities and technologies, including AI.”
“India plays a key role for us in healthcare. Our long-standing relationship with Wipro and what we have done with them really touch 300 million lives today. We have 19,000 employees in the country, 6,000 of those are involved in R&D efforts,” he said.
When asked where India currently stood in terms of being a growth market, and what the aspiration was for India over the next five years, he said, GE is fortunate to count India as an important part of its business today. “It is a multibillion-dollar footprint for us,” he said.
“When we think about GE and our purpose of building a world that works, whether in terms of precision healthcare or the energy transition, those are all global challenges that are also part and parcel of what we are doing in India today. We are bullish on India in that regard,” Culp said.
For the full discussion, watch the video