Sagnik: The Indian success story in China

Now, Beijing-based businessman looking for possibilities at home

He was born in the UK, grew up in Durgapur, Shantiniketan and Kolkata, but made his fortune in China. Sagnik Roy, who first went to China in the early 80s as a student, today is the co-owner of $600-million (Rs 2,700 crore) Yongtong Group that has interests in textiles, rubber and tyre, minerals and jade quarries. Now, Beijing-based Roy, 46, is looking for opportunities back home — in tyre and textiles and possibilities in educational and training outsourcing.

Roy, who went to China with $20 in the 80s as a student of Sinology at Viswa Bharati, gradually built up a business empire worth $600 million with Chinese co-owners over a period of time. Roy’s Yongtong group brands its products as Txyco for overseas markets possibly to do away with some of the negative notions about Chinese products.

Roy told Financial Chronicle that his exposures to business began as a trading agent working with Capital Resources in the US. His first trading outfit — Archian Granaties — started with only $20,000. Next in line was Sunwah International. Then came Yongtong Group, which owns 33 textile units of different sizes, jade quarries, and invests in minerals and tyres. He is the only non-Chinese director of the group, which is owned by a close-knit network that includes him, his Chinese wife, in-laws and friends, he said.

A fluent Mandarin speaker, Roy also serves as advisor to Jinan, Qingdao and Zibo local governments in Shandong, advising local governments in attracting foreign investment, modifying regulations to facilitate overseas business activities in the province. He is an adviser to Huayang Group, a subsidiary of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) in their international affairs.

“I have learnt a lot from the Korean experience. Korean companies sent hundreds of middle-level executives to China nearly a decade ago. These executives never concentrated on doing big business. Instead, they burnt midnight oil to learn the language and pick up the Chinese culture, which in turn, helped Korean companies establish themselves in a big way in China. The Chinese take time to trust somebody but once they do, it’s forever. I followed this religiously,” said Roy.

Known as “China’s son-in-law” in China’s business circles, Roy quips, “I lose the advantage of being a foreigner as they regard me as one of their own.”

Roy has already made it to the ICMR (the Hyderabad-based Center for Management Research) case studies and management resources as “an Indian success story in China.”

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