The Telegraph
Monday , March 31 , 2014
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JSPL pins hope on new govt

Uppal: Positive outlook

Calcutta, March 30: Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL), owned by Congress MP Naveen Jindal, says it has no problems with a Narendra Modi-led “stable government” if it manages to revive the metal sector in the country.

JSPL managing director and group CEO Ravi Uppal said the company was run professionally and at an “arm’s length distance” and hence it would not anticipate any problem with a BJP government at the Centre.

Naveen Jindal, who is the executive chairman of JSPL, part of OP Jindal Group, is contesting elections for the third time from Kurukshetra in Haryana for the Congress. He has won in the past two general elections.

“Demand for steel grew only 0.5 per cent in the first three quarters of this fiscal. However, if there is a stable government, the demand may go up to 7-8 per cent,” Uppal told The Telegraph.

At present, there is excess capacity in the industry. Installed capacity, in fact, rose to 104 million tonnes (mt) this fiscal against 95mt a year ago.

A policy paralysis in the past few years has led to steel consuming sectors such as infrastructure, capital goods and automobile registering a decline in production or marginal growth, negatively impacting demand for the metal.

JSPL, however, managed to increase sales, and market share. The company has traditionally focused on long (bars, rods, wires) products, but now is looking to make flat (plates) items, too.

Uppal said the company was focusing on value-added products.

JSPL is setting up product service centres. It is also tapping the retail market through a network of 850 dealers.

The company will end the fiscal with 7.4 million tonnes of steel, 8.5 million tonnes of pellet and 2,800 megawatt of power capacity. Uppal said the focus would now be on consolidating the business.

“Apart from the ongoing projects, we will not take up fresh ones. There has been a quantum leap in steel capacity (by 4.5mt, including 2mt in Oman) and 1,800 MW in power. We must reap the benefit (of the additional capacity) now,” he said.

The company intends to scale up coking coal production from its Mozambique and Australia mines. It is expected to have washed coal capacity of about 1.9 million tonnes against an internal demand of 1 million tonne.

Uppal said JSPL might sell excess coking coal if it got a good price for the fuel, which is used in steel making through the blast furnace route. It will also take up coal mine development work in Indonesia and Botswana and iron ore mining in Cameroon next fiscal.