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BBUNL bags African order

Our Bureau

KOLKATA, Oct. 31

BHARAT Bhari Udyog Nigam Ltd (BBUNL) has bagged a $5.5-million order from Societe DEMBA et Fils of Bamako, Mali, for supply of 350 four-wheeler units of container flat and tank wagons.

The Exim Bank has extended a $4.5 million line of credit to the African company to facilitate conclusion of the contract. Stating this at a news conference held here, the Chairman and Managing Director of BBUNL, Mr R.P. Singh, said the engineering conglomerate had already made inroads into the railway rolling stock markets in West and East Africa, besides South-East Asian countries.

Already, export orders to the tune of $12 million — for export of 1,250 four-wheeler units of various types of wagons — had already been received since April this year even as more orders valued at another $5 million were expected to be bagged before the end of the current fiscal. In the past, BBUNL exported wagons to Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Ivory Coast in Africa.

BBUNL has four wagon building companies as its subsidiaries. These include Burn Standard Co, Jessop and Co, Braithwaite and Co and Bharat Wagon Engineering Co. As such, BBUNL is among the largest railway freight wagon manufacturing entities in the region.

According to Mr Singh, BBUNL has recently exported track maintenance machines to Myanmar. An agreement has been entered into with a Malaysian company for the supply of 650 four-wheeler units of wagons to Malaysian Railways.

According to the agreement, the Malaysian company will assemble the wagons at a facility set up for the purpose there. ``The contract for Mali will enable us to further penetrate into new markets in Africa. Earlier, these countries used to purchase their railway rolling stock from European countries, especially France. Since we offer quality products at a competitive price, the potential for garnering market share is great. The only problem is getting the right financing tie-up,'' Mr Singh said. BBUNL, which recorded a turnover of Rs 384 crore in 2001-2002, hopes to end the current fiscal with a higher turnover of Rs 450 crore, according to Mr Singh.

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