Piramal Healthcare, which specialises in contract manufacturing and over-the-counter drugs, is looking to raise its research and development spend to 2 billion rupees in the next financial year from 1.5 billion rupees this year, he said.
The group also plans to buy small overseas biotechnology firms to boost drug discovery and research capability, Piramal said.
The Piramal Group also plans to lend up to $193 million to real estate projects in the current fiscal year to March as it focuses on building its newly launched financial arm, its chairman said.
The group also aims to set up a team by the end of March to look for opportunities to fund large projects such as power and road construction, sectors in which the government is hoping to rope in private-sector participation in a big way.
“We have started our investment first in the real estate sector,” Ajay Piramal told the Reuters India Investment Summit on Monday. “Today, there are unique opportunities available in real estate.”
He said the financial arm, which was launched this year, aims to lend between 7.5 billion rupees ($145 million) and 10 billion rupees by next March.
Ranked 39th with a net worth of $1.4 billion in the India rich-list by Forbes, the 56-year-old heads Piramal Healthcare (PIRA.NS), Piramal Glass (PRML.NS), drug discovery unit Piramal Life Sciences (PLSL.NS) and property developer Piramal Realty.
He made global news last year for selling his India drugs business to U.S.-based Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N) for $3.72 billion. Later, the group sold its diagnostic services unit to India’s Super Religare Labs for about $132.6 million.
Post the two major divestments, market speculations have swirled about the group’s investments outside the pharmaceutical sector.
Besides the financial business, Piramal said there were other investment opportunities the group would consider to tap in the near future but declined to elaborate.
“If you have cash in hand there are lots of opportunities that are available,” he said. “We are presented with more opportunities these days and there is much more reasonableness in the valuations.”
In August, the group through its Piramal Healthcare unit agreed to buy 5.5 percent stake in Vodafone’s India mobile operations for $640 million.