When Prime Minister Narendra Modi sits down to breakfast with the CEOs of top US companies Monday, he will be speaking to them with the knowledge and authority of a business honcho who knows what he wants and can possibly market India as an investment destination better than anyone else.
The prime minister, who has embarked on a five-day visit to the US, has not taken along any minister or official with a commerce background as part of his entourage. Reason: He is the best negotiator, and he knows exactly what he wants for the country from the top CEO of any global multinational.
Modi will hold a breakfast meeting with the CEOs of 11 top US companies on Sep 29, and follow it up with one-on-one meetings with six individual CEOs of top US companies and institutions. He will spend around 15-20 minutes with each CEO during the one-on-one.
The array of names he is to meet is formidable:
On the list of one-on-one meetings are: W. James (Jim) McNerney Jr, chairman of Boeing; Laurence D. Fink, CEO of American multinational investment management firm Black Rock; Ginni Rometty, president and CEO of IBM; Jeffrey R. Immelt. chairman and CEO of General Electric; Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs; and Henry Kravis, CEO of American private equity fund Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co. (KKR).
During the breakfast meeting he would be interacting with 11 leading individual CEOs, including Google’s Eric Schmidt, David M. Rubenstein of The Carlyle Group, Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat, Doug Oberhelman of Caterpillar Inc, Indra Nooyi of Pepsico and Michael Ball of US-based global pharmaceutical company Hospira Inc. and Kenneth C. Frazier of Merck and Co.
Modi, who has launched and made the Vibrant Gujarat investors summit a successful brand, is very conversant with business talk, according to people in the know.
He does not need anyone to help him with the business talk. He does it with great confidence and elan, officials who have seen him in action say. In Japan too, Modi was deep in biz talk — placing the needs of investment before the CEOs clearly, promising all help, and getting firm answers.
Modi, who launched the ambitious ‘Make in India’ campaign in the presence of global and domestic CEOs in New Delhi Thursday to attract investments and business into India, has promised a red carpet treatment for investors minus the frustrating red tape.
At the event, top CEOs including Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, Tata Group chief Cyrus Mistry, Mahindra Group chief Anand Mahindra and ITC chairman Y.C. Deveshvar were present.
The Vibrant Gujarat biennial event was launched in 2003. It has grown in the last 12 years to emerge as “a global business hub” and has established Gujarat as a major investment destination. The next year’s summit, to be held in January, is being billed as the “Davos of the East”.
Modi had taken along Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to Brazil for the BRICS summit, but this time he is going alone. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is already in New York and will join him when he arrives there. Among the other top officials accompanying the prime minister on this major trip are National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh.