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Bharat Electronics eyes 15 pc sales growth

Our Bureau

Bangalore , April 12

BHARAT Electronics has targeted a growth of 15 per cent in sales and profit for the current fiscal or turnover of over Rs 3,200 crore riding on the success of its new products, the CMD, Mr Y. Gopala Rao, has said.

This would be better than the provisional figures it returned for 2003-04 - of its highest turnover so far of Rs 2,791 crore or an increase of 11.3 per cent over the previous year.

Among the drivers would be the Simputer that made its retail launch recently; the set-top boxes; the export of electronic voting machines; and on the defence side the battlefield surveillance radar, the hand-held radio and the intelligent messaging terminals.

Profit before tax was 15.5 per cent, which was higher at Rs 446 crore for the year ended March 31 this year.

The order book stands at a high of Rs 6,650 crore, Mr Gopala Rao told an annual news conference here on Monday. It reported exports of $9.23 million (about 45 crore) for 2003-04 and has set a target of taking it to $13.8 million for the current year.

"The global market for the EVMs is developing and we are vigorously trying to export them to countries like Sri Lanka and Malawi. We have demonstrated it in the US too," Mr Gopala Rao said.

The South Asian nations, Africa and South-East Asia are its key markets. BEL has bagged Malaysia's order for vacuum interrupter tubes and has sold defence equipment and spares to Egypt, Israel, Switzerland, Indonesia, Malaysia and contract manufactured special batteries to the US.

Solar power systems are a thrust area and by September this year, BEL plans to set up a multi-crystalline solar cells facility of 10 MW in Bangalore with an investment of Rs 27 crore.

This is in addition to the existing 2 MW plant.

There is an increasing demand for solar power based systems and BEL is executing orders from Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

It is also setting up a Rs 11-crore Ku-band hub station with 885 remote Vsat terminals in Chamarajanagar district.

The station will support the distance education project jointly initiated by the Karnataka Government and ISRO.

During the year, BEL bagged a Rs 11.8-crore order from the IB Department for voice data network using satellite communication technology.

Mr S.C. Khanna, Director (Commercial & MS), said BEL-made Simputer, the hand-held simple computer, has generated tremendous interest and 150 pieces have been sold since retail sales opened in March.

Another 250 are being used for the State's Bhumi project and some more by the WHO, TB programme for collecting survey data.

"We expect the future of this product to be very bright," Mr Khanna said.

BEL is also talking to two broadcasters for interfacing the smart card for its set-top boxes, in the market for under six months.

Though pilot batches have been started, BEL is waiting for the green signal for the conditional access system.

Small radar in export orbit

The short range BFSR (battlefield surveillance radar) is one product that BEL is currently banking on heavily to improve its international defence presence.

The all-weather, all-terrain light-weight radar is a home-grown technology from the LRDE and can pick up persons, vehicles and weapons within a 2-10 km range. It is ideal for vigil on borders, sensitive installations as well as in battle zones.

There have been serious enquiries from at least five countries and BEL hopes to bag good orders. "This is one product we will be definitely exporting and we should know in the coming months," senior BEL executives told Business Line. BEL is looking at Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uzbekistan to sell the BFSRs while the radar has been demonstrated in Indonesia. "We are in the process of offering the product for field evaluations in other countries."

The first commercial order came from the Indian Army and BEL will be supplying 1,176 units of the BFSR valued at Rs 550 crore in the next 18 months.

The portable 2D radar, the officials said, had several superior, contemporary features and would be entering a multi-crore global market dominated by the likes of Thales of France, Alta of Israel, BAe, Raytheon and the Italian AMS.

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