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Wednesday, Jan 30, 2002

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Draft recast plan ready -- HPL shut due to `technical fault'

Indrani Dutta

KOLKATA, Jan. 29

THE Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL) plant has had to be shut down owing to some technical and instrumentation faults at the caustic tower, which is an integral part of the naphtha cracker unit (NCU).

While efforts are on to resume production within this week, company sources feared that this might have an impact on sales which had anyway been below targets this month. "The month had started well but this event might push down sales by around Rs 45 crore,'' the sources told Business Line.

The shutdown also affects HPL's plans to maintain capacity utilisation at 100 per cent. However, the sources said this shutdown — within two months of the last one, when the NCU was closed down for a week — was not a serious affair and was expected to be rectified fast by HPL engineers. HPL's capacity utilisation was around 60 per cent just before the shutdown on Monday.

Meanwhile, the company's top brass has readied its draft restructuring proposal which is to be presented to the HPL board and the lenders.

This proposal has been prepared keeping in mind the imminent change in the equity holding pattern of HPL, when The Chatterjee Group (TCG) through Chatterjee Petrochem (Mauritius) is expected to get a majority control of the petrochemical company.

The Industrial Development Bank of India and the lenders consortium led by the State Bank of India have been informed of the imminent change of guard at HPL last week. The State Government and TCG have an equal stake in HPL with Tatas being a minority partner.

Sources said this was the fourth restructuring proposal prepared by the company to improve its bottom line. The last was submitted to the FIs in the presence of the representatives of all the three promoters of HPL and the West Bengal Industry Minister, Mr Nirupam Sen.

The West Bengal Government is still awaiting Rs 107-crore funds infusion from Mr Purnendu Chatterjee, NRI promoter of HPL.

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