Tata Steel eyes fresh acquisitions in India, abroad

Friday, 21 May 2004, 07:00 Hrs
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MUMBAI: Tata Steel, India's second largest steel maker, plans to take over more companies in India and overseas as part of its strategy to significantly enhance its production capacity in the current fiscal year.

"We are looking at projects in Ukraine, China and South Asia besides in India (for acquisition)," said B. Muthuraman, managing director of Tata Steel, a business unit of one of India's biggest private business conglomerates Tata Group.

"Our first acquisition was in Sri Lanka when we acquired Mascon that produces 12,000 tonnes of steel. We are looking for fresh acquisitions," Muthuraman told IANS after posting the company's financial results for the year 2003-04 Thursday.

Tata Steel plans to expand its capacity to one million tones in the current financial year. "The project will take off in September 2005 and its impact will be felt in the financial year 2006-07," Muthuraman said.

"The outlook for the steel industry in India is good. Today we are more than exporters of steel, we are participants in the FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) market as well."

He said Tata Steel planed to enter the coated steel sheet market in a big way. "This will happen in 2006 but we have started exploring the market right away."

Tata Steel is planning a port in a joint venture with Larsen and Toubro. The first phase of this project will costs 15 billion. The company is exploring the possibility of starting a coke project and a power plant in Haldia in West Bengal.

"Seventy percent of the requirement of coal is provided by the Tata Steels owned mines and 30 percent is imported from Australia. These imports eat into our profits and we want to minimise our imports," said Muthuraman.

He said with the Chinese economy slowing down by 13 percent in its steel production, India had an advantage because the cost of producing steel in China is higher as compared to India.

Tata Steel Thursday reported net profit of 6.29 billion in the January-March quarterly period of the fiscal year 2003-04, up from 4.69 billion logged in a year ago period.

Source: IANS
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