Ashti is one of the most promising units in terms of catering to the demand of copier paper, which the company feels will witness steep growth in the future.

Dharini Nagarajan

New Delhi, Dec. 26

IN an attempt to consolidate and expand its business, Ballarpur Industries Ltd (BILT) is mulling the prospect of making APR Packaging Ltd, the Ashti unit, a 100 per cent subsidiary of BILT.

Currently, BILT has 38 per cent stake in the unit and plans to merge the unit with the company. The balance stake is held by BILT Paper Holdings.

The unit's recent modernisation and change of machinery cost BILT Rs 65 crore, which the company had earlier earmarked for in the Rs 1,200-crore investment plans set aside for expansion. The Ashti unit which previously manufactured extensible sack craft paper has now moved to producing white copier paper.

A company spokesperson said, "Over time, it only makes sense for Ashti to be a part of the BILT business and we are exploring the possibility of making that happen."

It is a logical move for the company, the official added. Although the unit does not feature in the annual financial reports of BILT, it has been pointed out that Ashti is one of the most promising units in terms of catering to the demand of copier paper, which the company feels will witness steep growth in the future.

An official observed, "We see tremendous growth in both copier and coated paper segments and hence our focus would primarily be to increase capacity and modernise the Bhigwan and Ashti units."

Earlier, the company had informed the BSE that it would be appointing PricewaterhouseCoopers as consultants to valuate the financials of Ashti over the possible merger.

Mr B. Hariharan, Group Director, Finance said, "We would consider the merger plan during the board meeting that is slated to be held during the third week of January."

The associate company of BILT, as Ashti is currently known as, is also looking to set up a captive power plant in the near future once the business stabilises.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 27, 2005)
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