SAIL suffers Rs 1720 cr loss
HCL Info homes in on home segment

New Delhi, May 27 
Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) today reported a loss of Rs 1,720 crore for the 1999-2000 fiscal year after a round of complicated book adjustments which wrote down assets and waived loans and interest payouts.

Without the financial adjustments, the steel behemoth would have ended the year with a loss of Rs 2,477 crore on a turnover of Rs 16,722 crore. SAIL had announced a loss of Rs 2,065 crore for the period April-December 1999.

However during the year, the central government approved a proposal waiving Steel Development Fund (SDF) loans to SAIL worth Rs 5,073 crore to be set off against write-downs in the value of assets by Rs 3,001 crore, wrote off Rs 1,566 crore in loans to IISCO, a SAIL subsidiary besides writing back interest payouts.

As a result of all this fiscal manoeuvring, SAIL�s losses for the 1999-2000 year were lower by Rs 756 crore and its reserves lower at Rs 1,931 crore from Rs 2,858 crore.

Commenting on the results, SAIL chief Arvind Pande said, �We will build on the relief given to us by the government. The trend in this quarter are encouraging.�

The company claimed its bottomline was primarily affected by adverse market conditions during the first three quarters of 1999-2000. Average price realisations remained unchanged with the domestic market giving a growth of three per cent and export realisation recording a fall.

The company, however, spent some Rs 585.55 crore extra towards a golden handshake scheme for some 13,500 workers and ad-hoc payouts to workers pending a wage settlement.

Unlike previous years, the state-owned steel major�s interest costs were less at Rs 1,788.79 crore compared with Rs 2,017.44 crore in the previous year, mainly due to loan and interest write offs.

Depreciation charges were, however, marginally higher at Rs 1,132.79 crore compared with Rs 1,104 crore last year.

In terms of sales, SAIL sold 9.7 million tonnes of steel, of which some 8.9 mt was sold in the domestic market. Domestic sales were up by 7.5 per cent while export sales at 8 lakh tonnes were up 80 per cent.    

Calcutta, May 27 
HCL Infosystems Ltd (HCL), the domestic computer major, is set to report a higher sales turnover of around Rs 1200-1250 crore in the year ending June 2000 compared with Rs 950 crore last year.

Sources said the expansion of home computer segment, following the large scale penetration of internet, had helped the company to record a higher sales.

HCL has decided to strengthen its focus on the home computer segment which currently contributes around 20 per cent to the overall sales. While 45 per cent and 35 per cent come from government organisations and corporate respectively.

�The sales in the corporate and government sectors are likely to witness a lower growth while the prospects in the home computer front is getting brighter. And we are gearing up to address this segment,� a senior HCL official said. The company has decided to embark on a massive marketing exercise to reposition its two home computer brands- Beanstock and Busybee.

�We have over 800 channel partners in 230 cities in the country and this formidable network helps us to be closer to the customers,� the official said. The company, which currently holds a 12 per cent market share, is also looking at the opportunities of raising its exports from the current level of 10 per cent.

�Our first target is to be market leader in India and then increase our exports at least to 30 per cent,� he added.

The company is currently manufacturing around 1.5 lakh units at its Pondicherry plant.

�The way the demand is growing for home computers, we may raise the manufacturing capacity by operating in two shifts,� the official said.

While hardware remains its core competence, HCL has diversified into software segment with development centres in Chennai, Noida and Calcutta. �Our aim is to offer complete technology solutions to our customers,� the official said. Software, however, would also grow on a stand-alone basis.    


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