Based in Delhi, I track developments both in corporate and economy sectors. In a career spanning since 2003, I track developments pertaining to M&A, PE/VC, startups and healthcare. Prior to joining Forbes, I have had stints with The Economic Times, Businessworld, India Today and Indian Express. I am also a guest faculty at The Indian Institute of Mass Communication (Dhenkenal) where I deliver part-time lectures to young aspiring journalists and teach them the practical side of reporting and editing. And when not working, I love to travel and spend time with my fawn Labrador.
Analjit Singh (left), founder and chairman emeritus of Max Group, with Shingo Kaneko, president of Toppan Printing
Image: Amit Verma
In February, the $2-billion Max Group roped in the Japan-based packaging and printing solutions behemoth Toppan Printing as a strategic partner of Max Speciality Films, the flagship manufacturing business of Max Ventures and Industries Limited (M-VIL). While this will pave the way for Toppan to make an India foray with an investment of Rs 200 crore, it will also bolster Max’s speciality films business. Forbes India caught up with Analjit Singh, founder and chairman emeritus of the Max Group, at his office in Lutyens’ Delhi, where he is joined by Shingo Kaneko, the Toppan president. Edited excerpts:
Q. How has life changed post the demerger of the erstwhile Max India? Could you also reflect on the joint venture with Toppan?
Analjit Singh: On January 15, 2015, we announced the demerger where one listed company was proposed to become three listed companies. Around this time last year (April-May 2016), the process was completed. Max Financial Services at that time had an established business of Max Life Insurance below it. A few months later, the merger was announced with HDFC Life. Max India was formed with three businesses and to be honest, they were a little shaky back then. Max Healthcare, a little less and Max Bupa and Antara (Senior Living), a bit more. The purpose of combining these three businesses in a cluster was to get the business of ‘health’, ‘care’ and ‘people’ together. A year later, Max Healthcare is flying, while Max Bupa is profitable—something we were sceptical about last year. And Antara is due to start soon. M-VIL, too, was a sluggish and stagnant business then. There was vacuum in terms of leadership, strategy and future. But today, several businesses under it such as real estate (Max Estates) and education (Max Learning) are on the verge of taking off and the investment arm (Max I) has also started. As far as Max Speciality Films (under M-VIL) is concerned, Toppan has come in.
It’s actually like a knee replacement surgery plus a cardiac procedure and a kidney transplant. Toppan is an $7-billion company, among the top two in Japan, and has a substantial platform linked to BOPP films (biaxially oriented polypropylene), to packaging solutions outside BOPP as well as a substantial platform linked to non-BOPP, non-packaging. Together with Toppan, we can leverage our BOPP business, extend into the world of packaging that is non BOPP, find avenues which are non-packaging and non-BOPP, which is what MaxVIL was born for. But we did not have leadership back then. Like in the life insurance business, M-VIL too has a current value of current business, its future value and future value of future business. Toppan is taking the current value of current business, extending the value of the business from the current business and finding new value from new business. That’s what the joint venture is all about.
Q. What prompted Toppan to invest in India? And why Max Group, when there are other bigger players such as Flex, Jindal, among others, in the packaging business?
Shingo Kaneko: We have been in the packaging business for long and have been laying emphasis on globalisation. The Japanese domestic market is shrinking. We have very good technology, so we now want to go global. The packaging market is witnessing a global growth rate of 4 percent CAGR, while India is witnessing a growth rate of 18 percent. We were already present in Indonesia, China, Thailand, Europe and America and now we’ve entered India. Why Max? Well, it’s a conglomerate with many verticals. Toppan, too, has many business divisions. While we have invested in films for now, we will be discussing other solutions as well. We feel that through the joint venture, we can synergise our strength collectively and find solutions for the Indian market. Besides, we also saw a lot of commonalities in terms of corporate ideals which brought us together.
India is an important market for us as consumption here is only going to grow.