Kusto Group aims to turn its firms into S-E Asian leaders

Mr Tatishev says that as Kusto Group expands, it hopes to eventually have its companies list in Singapore as well.
Mr Tatishev says that as Kusto Group expands, it hopes to eventually have its companies list in Singapore as well.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

The mission for Singapore-based private holding company Kusto Group is to transform any business it invests in into a top player in the region.

"In five years' time, hopefully, the ideas we've put in place today will come to fruition, and all of our companies will be South-east Asia's leading companies," said Mr 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," he said.

"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," Mr Tatishev, 40, told The Straits Times in a recent interview.

EXPORT CULTURE

Singapore is quite developed, so the more powerful idea would be to take Singapore companies out into the world.

MR YERKIN TATISHEV, Kusto Group's chairman.

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.

And it is already seeing its companies grow from strength to strength.

The group's Israeli company Tambour, for instance, is now known as the country's leading paint and gypsum board manufacturer, while its cement firms in Vietnam supply about 60 per cent of the market in central Vietnam, or up to four million tonnes of cement per year.

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, said Mr Tatishev, noting that South-east 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 (S$1.43 billion) last year, hopes to be able to invest in Singapore companies by next year.

Mr Tatishev said Kusto tried to buy a Singapore 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 material 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," he added.

Mr Tatishev said that as Kusto Group expands, it hopes to eventually have its companies list in Singapore as well. The group employs more than 8,000 staff worldwide, including a team of about 10 here.

"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 pointed out."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 27, 2016, with the headline 'Kusto Group aims to turn its firms into S-E Asian leaders'. Print Edition | Subscribe