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Mumbai: Analyst and media circles in Mumbai are agog over Friday’s launch of a new company by the Aditya Birla Group. The fact that chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla is launching it himself hasn’t been lost on people.

There has been speculation that the new venture could be related to solar energy, or e-commerce, even an accelerator.

All three are flavours of the month.

While the lion’s share of Aditya Birla Group’s investments (60%) is still targeted towards its traditional manufacturing businesses of metals, cement, fibre, chemicals and fertilizers, services and new economy is an area of interest for India’s third largest conglomerate. Birla’s future directions to company heads is for digital-led businesses and customer centricity.

Most of the conglomerate’s manufacturing businesses are facing a slowdown now on account of the end of the global commodity super cycle. Chances are that these businesses will seek to consolidate their debt-driven growth of the past decade. New investents then, will likely be in new areas.

“It is a fact that we have focused a lot on building the services side of the business… we have tried to give a lot of attention to new sectoral growth and to creating more customer facing businesses,", Dev Bhattacharya, business head–group corporate strategy, Aditya Birla Group said in a recent interview. Bhattacharya is also looking at possible ventures in solar power and e-commerce.

“I don’t think we have a very clear position on whether we will build out different e-commerce business on our own or acquire some. Or invest in some but we are looking at it as this sector is exciting and growing," he said. The group recently soft-luanched its online fashion portal ABOF.

Whatever Birla’s newest company may do, it will surely represent the changing face of a conglomerate that is straddling old businesses with new, with an eye on taking the group’s revenue to $65 billion from $41 billion in a few years.

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