Interview: DC Design mulls IPO to raise up to $24 million in 2014

February 5, 2014

Indian automotive design and modification firm DC Design is considering an initial public offering this year to raise about 1 billion to 1.5 billion rupees ($16 million-$24 million) to expand its operations, its founder said in an interview on Wednesday.

The company would consider filing for an IPO among other ways to raise capital after its Avanti supercar goes on sale later this year, Dilip Chhabria told India Insight at the Delhi Auto Expo in Greater Noida.

“So far we have somehow managed, but really we want to exploit the full potential of our brand, capability and market segmentation, then obviously we have to have access to capital,” Chhabria said ahead of his two new car launches.

It is not the first time that Chhabria has talked about going public. United News of India reported in 2000 that he was planning an IPO, and the Economic Times reported in 2004 that he was planning to take the company public by 2007.

The company, which designs its own cars and also modifies vehicles, caters to a tiny segment of Indian car buyers who are not price conscious.  In a 2008 interview to Knowledge@Wharton, Chhabria said that designing high-end vans cost upwards of $1 million.

With 11 stores around the country, the company sells about 600 units each year and is growing by 20 to 25 percent annually, Chhabria said. Typical buyers are wealthy people.

Car market in Asia’s third-largest economy struggled last year as new car sales fell for the first time in more than a decade, weighed by rising interest costs and a slowing domestic economy. But DC’s niche targeting has worked, Chhabria said.

“We cater to the top pantheons of the society — those sections don’t really get impacted,” he said. “It’s more of a passion play, we are not catering to the middle class per se.”

Chhabria, 60, started by creating car accessories in India in 1983 after working for a year at General Motors’ design centre in Detroit. He founded DC Design 10 years later.

He designed the Aston Martin Vanquish seen in Hollywood movie “Die Another Day” (see it here at the 3:20 mark), and two years ago unveiled the Avanti, which is referred to as India’s first supercar, at a price tag of around 2.5 million rupees ($40,300).

(Editing by Robert MacMillan; Follow Aditya on Twitter @adityayk and Robert @bobbymacReports | Disclaimer: This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced in any form without permission)

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