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Thursday, Jun 27, 2002

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Electrosteel aims high in DI pipes

Mohan Padmanabhan

KOLKATA, June 26

ELECTROSTEEL Castings Ltd (ECL), which recently acquired a 49-per cent stake in the Hyderabad-based Lanco Industries Ltd, a relatively new player in the field of ductile iron (DI) pipes, is now benchmarking itself against global competition.

Talking to Business Line, Mr Umang Kejriwal, Managing Director, ECL, said the acquisition of 49-per cent stake in Lanco (which cost ECL close to Rs 150 crore) had thrust additional responsibilities on the company to emerge as a total DI pipes outfit in the world market, which has about 15 players in the field.

"Ideally, we would like to be counted among the top five DI pipe companies in the world and that is the goal towards which we are directing all our efforts now," he said.

Asked on the build-up to the acquisition of stake in the Lanco Group, Mr Kajriwal, who described the new relationship as one of ``partnership'', said ``it just happened''.

Sounding upbeat on the future possibilities, he said ``we intend to synergise the strengths of both the organisations in a spirit of partnership, to emerge as a total solutions provider in the area of water infrastructure development in the country''.

Not sounding too worried about emerging domestic competition, as ECL was already well placed as a leading player in the DI pipes market, he said ``we are now looking at the global scenario''.

Asked if ECL was considering diversification into new areas (entirely unrelated to pipes), Mr Kejriwal said ``we are open to all sorts of new ideas as long as these ventures add to shareholder value''.

He pointed out that in many of the turnkey contracts with water sewerage boards of the State Governments, ECL provided total support by way of even designs, while not getting full recognition for this.

"In every project that we do, we try and look beyond mere pipes, so that in the public eye we may come to be recognised as a premier water infrastructure company that delivers water safety to millions of Indian homes".

Outlining the company's approach on the costs front, he said "we try and bring down costs through economies of scale, and our key strength is aggressive marketing''.

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