After 6 years, Nokia plant site at Sriperumbudur comes to life as Salcomp starts ops

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on October 26, 2020 Published on October 26, 2020

Finnish component major to invest ₹500 cr and employ 5,600 persons now; to ramp it up to over ₹1,000 cr, and 15,000 persons

Till six years ago, the brand Nokia and the electronic cluster of Sriperumbudur were inseparable. None could miss the iconic blue Nokia logo of the plant while zipping along the Chennai-Bengaluru highway. But, today, the red-colour logo of Salcomp — another Finnish major and component supplier to Apple — has replaced Nokia’s.

Nokia shut its plant in 2014 due to a ₹21,000-crore tax case with the Income-Tax Department for allegedly violating withholding tax norms. The plant was later attached by the IT authorities. When Nokia sold its handset business to Microsoft, the Sriperumbudur facility was left out of the deal.

Will Salcomp buy of Nokia unit be a lifeline for telecom SEZ?

During the thick of action in 2010, nearly 50,000 employees were working round-the-clock at the Nokia SEZ at Sriperumbudur producing ‘Made-in-India’ Nokia mobile phones that were used globally. But all these came to a dead stop from November 2014. In the last six years, the huge campus wore a deserted look, with one person calling it a large ghost complex.

Today, the complex is back in action, thanks to Salcomp. Last Friday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami inaugurated Salcomp’s plant in which the Finnish company will initially invest ₹500 crore and employ 5,600 persons; this will be gradually increased to over ₹1,000 crore, and employ 15,000 persons.

Salcomp buys Nokia's Sriperumbudur plant to make Apple chargers

“Nokia was the pride of Tamil Nadu. Its absence was a big setback for the State. However, we have now regained our status of being a leading electronics cluster after many companies, including Foxconn and Flextronics, ramped up operations at Sriperumbudur,” said a senior government official. “A few more electronics manufacturers are likely to come,” he added.

Nokia had an entire ecosystem, including Salcomp, in place at its 210-acre SEZ. However, the moment Nokia suspended operations, this ecosystem broke but is now being revived, the official said.

It was hard to sell the large land parcel size of Nokia and also due to the attachment of the property by the IT authorities. But, thanks to the frantic efforts of the governments of both Tamil Nadu and the Centre, the defunct Nokia plant has come to life after a gap of nearly six years, he added.

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Published on October 26, 2020
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