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Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla in spotlight over Alabama plans

Giant company expects to build $2.5 billion aluminum plant in U.S. state

Novelis, the U.S. unit of Birla-owned metals giant Hindalco Industries, has started work on an aluminum plant in Alabama. (Source photo by Reuters and the Aditya Birla Group)

MUMBAI -- From setting up textile mills in Thailand in the 1960s to starting a palm oil refinery in Malaysia the following decade, India's Aditya Birla Group has long been used to operating abroad. But the sprawling cloth-to-metals conglomerate's push to build a $2.5 billion aluminum plant in the southern U.S. state of Alabama opens a new chapter in its global expansion.

The move, announced by a Birla subsidiary in May, marks India Inc.'s biggest-ever overseas project built from scratch, and is shining the international spotlight on the company and its chairman, Kumar Mangalam Birla, a 55-year-old billionaire whose son played cricket in the Indian Premier League and whose musician daughter has had a string of pop hits.

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