Its financial options include follow-on public offer

Nilanjan Dey
Kohinoor Mandal

Plans ahead

Asian Tea

has recently taken over a tea unit with the view to increase production by upgrading its facilities. The plant, which has a capacity of 0.8 million kg, will be scaled up to produce 2 million kg.

Kolkata, Sept. 12

Asian Tea & Exports Ltd has decided to diversify into real estate development and tea tourism even as it weighs a proposal to promote IT-related infrastructure.

The company, which has lined up Rs 38-40 crore investment plans to enter new businesses, is in the processing of identifying a couple of locations for commercial development in Kolkata.

Asian Tea's thrust on real estate is expected to be through a recently-acquired construction outfit, which has now become its 100 per cent subsidiary.

On the tourism front, the company has started scouting for opportunities to promote its tea estates, situated in North Bengal. Thegardens spread over 500 acres or so are considered to be strategically located so as to take advantage of an emerging sector.

Diversification into real estate and tea tourism will help create value for shareholders, said Mr Hariram Garg, CMD, Asian Tea, adding that a few financing options, including a follow-on public issue, have been already considered for the diversification project. The follow-on offer, for which IDBI Capital Markets has been mandated, will be the company's second attempt to raise capital from the public; it first tapped the market in 1994-95. The stock is listed on BSE and CSE.

Asian Tea, Mr Garg further mentioned, has recently taken over a tea unit with the view to increase production by upgrading its facilities. The plant, which has a capacity of 0.8 million kg, will be scaled up to produce 2 million kg at a cost of Rs 3 crore which will be fundedthrough internal accruals and bank loans. On another front, Asian Tea is exploring the possibility of setting up IT-related infrastructure in North Bengal. The company is also taking up (on a pilot basis) a medicinal plant project. It has already tied up with IIT Kharagpur for sourcing expertise in this area.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 13, 2006)
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