The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stamp-duty damper on Jayshree garden merger

Calcutta, June 27: Jayshree Tea has shelved the plan to fold North Tukvar Tea Company into itself after a two-year suspense over stamp duty stalled the mergers of Shiva’s Group, its realty firm, and Siddhi Binayak Tea. “We do not have any plan to merge the profit-making North Tukvar with the parent company,” managing director D. M. Jain told reporters here today.

The B.K. Birla group firm won the approval of shareholders and Calcutta High Court for the merger of Shiva’s group and Siddhi Binayak with itself, but could not go ahead with the plan because the Bengal government did not clarify its stand on stamp duty, he said.

The Darjeeling-based North Tukvar reported a profit of Rs 23 lakh in 2002-03, up from Rs 16 lakh in the previous year. However, it still had piled-up losses of Rs 3.59 crore in March 2003 against Rs 3.82 crore a year ago.

Hiring casual workers and efficient plucking helped the estate cut costs at a time when the industry is passing through a bad patch. Darjeeling gardens have borne the brunt of the slump, battered by sagging overseas demand and the spiralling cost of production, Jain said.

The garden produced 2.98 lakh kgs of tea, less than 3.08 lakh kgs last year, but the price it fetched was higher at Rs 206 against Rs 195 per kg last year.

Commenting on the prospects of the newly launched IT business, Jain said Jayshree Infotech did everything it could in last year to improve its performance. “We will get big orders in a month or two.”

The company set up an international call centre at software-technology park in Calcutta to explore global opportunities in the IT sector. “While we made a beginning with some good customers, the immediate future could be challenging,” Jain said.

Asked about the chemicals and fertilisers business, Jain said the firm’s super-phosphate plant at Gurgaon was closed, and all 80 employees given VRS. However, the sulphuric acid plant has been satisfactory: It produced 29,769 tonnes of acid, up from 29,350 tonnes last year.

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