As the world economic balance tilts eastward, the U.S. will benefit from more Asian investment, executives said at an Asia conference in Atlanta.
Infosys Technologies Ltd., an Indian information-technology firm, has seen a meteoric rise to $6 billion in sales from $200 million 11 years ago, largely thanks to growth in its primary market, the U.S., said Sandeep Dadlani, the company’s vice president for retail in the Americas.
Previously, certain geographic regions had predictable strengths. Developing countries like India and China served as cheap talent bases, while the U.S. supplied the customers, Mr. Dadlani told GlobalAtlanta on the sidelines of the all-day Symposium on Asia-USA Partnership Opportunities on April 8.
These roles aren’t so easily defined nowadays, he said. Infosys, which has an office in Atlanta, gets 70 percent of its sales from the U.S., but it has also begun to recruit more personnel here. The goal is to provide quicker, better service for clients with employees who know the culture in which they work.
“As important as it is to be global, it’s equally important to be local. In the U.S., we have increased local hiring” and established 16 centers around the country, Mr. Dadlani said.
Georgia, with its strong universities and sizable pool of Fortune 500 firms, is vital to Infosys as a source for customers and a pipeline for talent. The company has hired many engineers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Mr. Dadlani said.
Indian competitors like Wipro Technologies and NIIT USA have also noticed this trend and have set up operations in Atlanta to be near quality schools and the large corporations that use their services.
Like Indian firms, Chinese investors, emboldened by success at home, are looking at the U.S. with increased interest, said Henry Yu, president of Shanghai Bosun Capital Advisors.
Many medium-sized Chinese companies are seeking acquisition candidates, and they’ll settle for a 10 or 20 percent stake in a U.S. firm if they can’t buy a controlling interest, Mr. Yu said during a speech at the conference.
Mr. Yu, who worked in Atlanta for SunTrust Banks Inc. before moving to Shanghai in 2008, also suggested that Atlanta position itself as a gateway to Latin America for Chinese companies.
Asia-based firms that invested in Georgia long ago also shared experiences that could provide some insight for newcomers. At its peak, Japanese subsidiary YKK Corp. of America made 7 billion zippers per year at its Macon factory complex. Then the world changed with the shift of apparel manufacturing to low-cost countries in Asia, said Alex Gregory, the company’s president and CEO.
“As the world became more global, it impacted us,” Mr. Gregory said.
YKK had to adapt to survive, he said. The company diversified into fasteners for military garments as well as buckles and zippers for automobile seat coverings. It also launched a unit in Dublin, Ga., making architectural products.
The symposium, called SAUPO, was hosted by Kennesaw State University‘s Asian studies department at the W Hotel Midtown. It included breakout panels on issues from investing in India to advertising in China. Companies like Atlanta-based architecture and design firm tvsdesign also shared lessons from working in Asia. A wide variety of academics discussed global economic trends.
Organizers hope to hold the event every other year, conducting seminars in the off years. For more information on SAUPO, visit www.kennesaw.edu/saupo.