By THE STRAITS TIMES
ASIA NEWS NETWORK
“In five years’ time, hopefully, the ideas we’ve put in place today will come to fruition, and all of our companies will be Southeast Asia’s leading companies,” said Yerkin Tatishev, the group’s chairman.
Kusto Group – set up in 2002 with the idea of “doing different things in different markets and industries” – buys poorly managed companies and sets about lifting their game.
“It’s about transforming the company, such as in terms of managing efficiency and creating a good corporate culture,” Tatishev, 40, told The Straits Times.
in a recent interview.“Whether it’s oil or construction, it doesn’t matter what business, the aim is to create companies that will offer solutions for today’s markets.”
Kusto Group owns more than 30 companies worldwide, including in Israel, Kazakhstan and Vietnam, and they are spread across the construction, energy, agriculture and real-estate sectors.
It claims it is seeing its companies grow from strength to strength.
The group’s Israeli company Tambour, for instance, is now known as the country’s leading manufacturer of paint and gypsum board, while its cement firms in Vietnam supply about 60 per cent of the market in central Vietnam, or up to 4 million tonnes of cement per year, Kusto says.
Also, the group’s Vietnamese construction business Coteccons saw its revenues double between 2012 and 2015, and is on track to achieve a 10 per cent share of the residential and industrial construction markets by 2020.
Vietnam, in particular, is a key growth driver for Kusto, Tatishev said, noting that Southeast Asia will be a major area of focus for the group in the next decade, given the huge potential in the region.
He added that the group, which drew a turnover of more than US$1 billion (Bt36 billion) last year, hopes to be able to invest in Singaporean companies by next year.
Tatishev said Kusto tried to buy a Singaporean restaurant chain in late 2014, but was not successful.
“Most of our companies have enough jobs in their own markets, where there’s still a lot of space to grow. But Singapore is quite developed, so the more powerful idea would be to take Singapore companies out into the world,” he said.
“There are a lot of strong products and technologies here that can be delivered to other markets. It does not matter what kind of business – it can be food, medicine, construction materials or technology – we want a company that has a strong platform, a strong product, and if we can take this and put it into new markets with growing demand, there will be huge opportunities.”
Tatishev said that as Kusto Group expands, it hoped eventually to have its companies list in Singapore as well. The group employs more than 8,000 staff worldwide, including a team of about 10 in Singapore.
“Here, there is a strong financial sector, good legal system, and the business environment is very supportive and efficient. For us, when we decided to become international and invest in different parts of the world, it came very naturally that we should be in Singapore,” he said.