Hind Copper to hive off Khetri, Taloja units
Usha Beltron recast plan to be ready in 4 weeks
Philips banks on model upgrade for success
Bajaj Auto sales up

Calcutta, March 4 
Hindustan Copper Ltd (HCL) has decided to hive off its two units at Khetri and Taloja into a separate company and sell the majority stake to a strategic partner.

The move is aimed at making a turnaround from the heavy losses the company suffered during the last three years.

The public sector company has already floated global tenders to appoint a consultant for the valuation of assets in these two units.

“The assets of these units will form 49 per cent of HCL’s contribution to the new company. The strategic partner will have to bring funds to acquire a 51 per cent stake in the joint venture,” a senior HCL official said.

The proceeds from the sale of the stake would be used to retire high-cost debt and also to rejuvenate its operations in Indian Copper Complex (ICC) and Malanjkhand Copper Project (MCP), which are suffering heavy losses.

The official said ICC and MCP would also be spun off into a separate company in the second phase after undertaking a thorough manpower and production restructuring of two units.

“Once the two units become viable, these will be brought under a separate company in which HCL would divest up to 51 per cent of its stake to another strategic partner,” the official said.

HCL’s divestment proposal has already been approved by the government. According to company sources, the divestment is expected to be completed by September this year.

While the official refused to divulge any details about the global tendering, sources said six global consulting majors are vying for the assignment.

“We now have a very insignificant role to play in the whole disinvestment process since the government itself is looking into it,” the official said.

HCL, which suffered heavy losses over the last three years because of the slump in prices at the London Metal Exchange, has also decided to close its unviable mines at Pathargora and Kendadih, for which it has received the government’s nod.

Earlier, the company had closed its Mosaboni and Badia mines in 1998.

HCL registered a net loss of Rs 172 crore on a turnover of Rs 479.49 crore during the financial year ending September 30, 1999. Its accumulated losses stood at Rs 408 crore.

The company will seek the shareholders’ approval on the proposed restructuring and hiving off of its two profit-making units into a new company in the 32nd annual general meeting on March 24.    

Calcutta, March 4 
Usha Beltron Ltd has decided to demerge its knowledge-based businesses from its traditional manufacturing businesses.

The city-based business group has appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to handle the corporate restructuring plan.

The company board which met here today asked PwC to submit its recommendations for the proposed de-merger within the next four weeks.

Usha Communication Technology Ltd (UCT), its products company based in the US, Usha Martin Academy of Communication Technology (UACT) and USOFT are the three companies which will be hived off following the group’s decision to focus on the telecom sector.

Sources said the board also considered plans for a Nasdaq listing for UCT and decided on a major push towards e-commerce, with Usha Beltron planning to launch a business-to-business (B2B) portal to supply its existing products and services.

UCT, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, with a current product revenue of $ 12 million, employs over 400 professionals.

UBL officials said that one of UCT’s latest products—a new billing and customer care product—will enable it to focus on integrated communication providers covering the entire gamut of telecom services, both voice and data.    

Calcutta, March 4 
Philips India Ltd has decided to introduce new models of its colour televisions across all product segments to boost its bottomline this year.

K. Ramachandran, managing director of the company, said, “We are unhappy with the profit levels of the consumer electronics division. We are aiming at an overall growth of 10 per cent, with the new businesses doubling in size.”

“We know that we are neither at the top end nor at the bottom end of the market,” he said. “But we are not interested in a price war. We would like to give our consumers a premium product. Philips would like to become a mass player through aggressively marketing its 14 and 20 inches CTVs.”

“The other area which needs to be looked into is input costs. We are focusing on supply chain management so as to reduce our purchase bill,” he said.

The company, which witnessed a dip in its operating profit in 1999, has already completed 80 per cent of its restructuring exercise, with the remaining 20 per cent to be carried out this year.

Last year Philips recorded a seven to eight per cent growth in some of its businesses, but the average growth was four per cent.

The consumer electronics division achieved a steady growth, but its overall performance had been affected due to fierce competition, leading to reduced margins.

The company achieved a 33 per cent market share in audio systems. In CTVs, Philips witnessed a 25 per cent volume growth, with 40 per cent in 21 inches and 150 per cent in the large screen segment.

Ramachandran said the lighting division, which witnessed an increased marketshare of 27 per cent, remains the most profitable for the company.

The domestic appliances and personal care division registered an overall growth of 22 per cent. However, the consumer communications division which deals with the manufacture of handsets, did not fare as well. “We plan to launch new handsets in July,”he said.

He said that Philips is also planning to invest in the plastic metalware business.

Under the global plan drawn up by its parent company, Philips India is globally divesting its projects business, which contributes to about 1.5 per cent of the company’s turnover. “We are considering several options and things will materialise in another three weeks times,” he added.

Ramachandran said the Philips software centre in Bangalore engaged in the manufacture of embedded chips is growing by 60-70 per cent. “We plan to source about 25 per cent of our embedded chip requirement from India by 2002-03,” he said.

Further, Origin, an ERP company where Philips KPNV has a 90 per cent holding has also set up shop in India, he said, adding that the business is doing satisfactorily.    

Calcutta, March 4 
Bajaj Auto has recorded its highest ever sales of motorcycles in February, touching 28,5000 units, riding on sales of the Bajaj Boxer AT. The company plans to launch Pulsar, a high-end 4-stroke model in the second half of the next fiscal.    

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