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March 27, 2006

What makes Suzlon's Tanti tick?

Several Indian entrepreneurs have tried and failed to make money from the winds. Not so Tulsi Tanti, Founder & CMD of Pune-based wind energy turbine maker Suzlon Energy. Tanti (Age 47) is now #8 on the Forbes list of richest Indias with a personal net worth of $3.7 billion. His net worth is clearly a reflection of the phenomenally successful IPO of Suzlon in 2005 (which was preceeded by two rounds of private equity funding in 2004).

Says Forbes:
Faced with escalating power costs, this former textile producer moved into wind energy a decade ago, eventually building Asia's largest wind farm. In October listed his Suzlon Energy, in which he and 3 siblings own 70%. Expanding into the U.S., China and Australia.

Businessworld and Economic Times have published detailed profiles of Tanti and Suzlon's recent breathtaking $565 million acqusition of Belgian wind turbine gearbox manufacturer Hansen Transmissions.

Says Businessworld:
This deal — the second largest ever by an Indian company — is Tanti’s biggest breakthrough ever. In the early 1990s, he was a passable entrepreneur with a Rs 40-crore textile business. But the textile mills’ power consumption was greater than the profits that they generated. So Tanti decided to set up windmills to cut power bills and discovered the wind power business. But he had no access to the technology needed to manufacture wind turbines.

In 1994, Tanti acquired Sudwind, a bankrupt wind turbine company. That provided the technology base. Then, in 2000, he purchased part of the assets and technology of Airpack, a bankrupt company that made turbine rotor blades. The technology and demand for wind turbines in India (thanks to the tax incentives) helped him build a company. He ploughed on even as others like TTG Industries and NEPC fell by the wayside. In a few years, he became the market leader in India. Says CVC’s India head Ajay Relan: “Tanti is one of the best entrepreneurs we have worked with.”

Arun Natarajan is the Founder of Venture Intelligence India, which tracks venture capital activity in India and Indian-founded companies worldwide. View sample issues of Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.