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Stewarts & Lloyds in hunt for foreign tie-up for tech inputs

Kohinoor Mandal

KOLKATA, Nov. 1

STEWARTS & Lloyds of India Ltd, a subsidiary company of Tata Steel, is looking for a strategic overseas partner for bringing in necessary technological know-how.

Mr Utpal Dhar, Managing Director of the company, said a consultant was being appointed for this job. He, however, declined to name the consultant.

``From the proposed partner, we need technological knowhow which in turn would help us procure and also execute orders. We may also offer equity stake to the proposed partner it if is necessary,'' he told Business Line.

It may be noted that Stewarts & Lloyds had strategic arrangements with US, Korean, Australian and Chinese companies among others. McKenzie Hydro Carbon of Australia, Sung IL Machinery Instrumentation Co Ltd of Korea and the US-based CII for Value & Control Systems were some of its partners.

``All these arrangements were based on individual project orders. The partners were giving us technological support against which we were paying a fee. Each agreement was different from the other,'' he said.

The proposed partnership with the overseas player, however, would not be project-specific. "It would be an umbrella kind of arrangement with regular flow of information and constant cooperation,'' he said.

Meanwhile, the company, which was primarily engaged in industrial piping, has repositioned itself into a total fluid handling systems provider. It has also created a project engineering division, which will support the primary job.

"With this repositioning, we have enlarged our business portfolio,'' he said. The company is also exploring newer areas of business like refurbishing of old fertiliser, steel, power and water treatment plants.

The company has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE), whereby the two would jointly bid for rehauling of crafts belonging to Indian Navy and the Coast Guard.

The company has decided to hive off its Mumbai factory, and has already advertised for this purpose. It is yet to receive any favourable response. There has been no production in this unit for sometime now, and it will be sold off just as an asset.

The Mumbai works, like the Kolkata unit, was manufacturing manipulated pipework, forged butt weld fittings and accessories. According to Mr Dhar, the Kolkata unit has started producing general purpose pipelines for high pressure boilers. "We have reduced our workforce in the unit from 200 to 43 but these workers are doing a tremendous job,'' he said.

During 2001-02, the company registered a turnover of Rs 34.99 crore against the Rs 35.72 crore in the previous year. The profit after tax dropped marginally to Rs 1.30 crore against Rs 1.44 crore of the previous year. Profit before tax, however, increased to Rs 2.01 crore from Rs 1.87 crore. The company has announced a 20 per cent dividend against the previous year's 15 per cent. For the current financial year, Stewarts & Lloyds has set a turnover target of Rs 50 crore. Boasting a "healthy'' order book position at present, the company is following the Tata Business Excellence model and, accordingly, has worked out a four-year corporate plan.

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