Amid the stampede of Western multinationals pushing to expand in China and India, a few are way out ahead of the pack. Take Abbott Laboratories (No. 136 on the Fortune 500), for instance. The Illinois-based maker of nutritional products and medical devices (2014 sales: $20.2 billion) now gets about a third of its worldwide revenues from Asia.
Granted, Abbott had a head start. The company has operated in India since 1910, and it opened its first Chinese subsidiary in the 1930s. Still, most of its growth is built on far more recent investments, totaling about $5 billion since 2009. That figure includes manufacturing plants in Singapore and Jiaxing, and a string of acquisitions that have turned Abbott into India’s biggest pharmaceutical maker.
To keep up with all that expansion, Abbott has doubled its hiring in Asia in the past six years. The company now has 26,000 Chinese…
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