Chairman, India Power Corporation
Hemant Kanoria had the classical upbringing of a boy born into a Marwari business family in Kolkata. Amid the life of a large extended family, he sat through meals where his grandfather, father, uncles and cousins used to talk about the family business. When he was 17, he was given the responsibility of two flour mills in the family business. One was a sick unit; the other had been closed. “Every Marwari father does this, gives responsibility because the best way to learn is when you have weight on your shoulders – baptism by fire,” he says.
A few years later, his younger brother Sunil and he set up SREI Infrastructure Finance. They began by financing infrastructure equipment for contractors and construction companies. To their good fortune, the sector was opened up for private participation in 1991. They began expanding their portfolio. Today, SREI has 32 branches across India and has expanded to Germany, Russia, the UK and parts of Africa. In 2010, Kanoria Foundation company India Power Corporation took over DPSC Limited in a government restructuring exercise. The company has a diversified portfolio with renewable and conventional modes of power generation, distribution and power trading. It owns and operates a distribution licence spread across 620 square km in the Asansol-Raniganj belt.
India Power has entered into an agreement to purchase 49 per cent in a 36 MW solar plant under implementation in Uttarakhand and is looking at further opportunities in the renewables space. Going forward, it plans to expand in the distribution and generation segments, and aims to be a leading integrated power company.
Kanoria was chairman, FICCI National Committee on Infrastructure, and is currently council member of the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce. He has been on the board of IIM Kolkata; member of the Regional Direct Taxes Advisory Committee; and president of the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce. Kanoria is proud of the fact that SREI was the first private Indian infrastructure company to be listed on the London Stock Exchange (in 2005), thanks to his ability to convince the German and Dutch governments and lenders, to give the company long-term lines of credit.
For relaxation, he likes playing squash, doing yoga, going skiing, watching movies and reading. Even though his day starts at 5.30 a.m., he does not feel tired when it ends at around 11.30 p.m. “That’s because I enjoy every second of it. I have so much fun that I can hardly call it work,” he says.