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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

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Neelachal Ispat: SAIL bid for stake hits roadblock

Pratim Ranjan Bose

Kolkata , May 16

SAIL's bid to acquire a strategic stake in Neelachal Ispat Nigam Ltd is facing a roadblock. The proposal, which is now with the Union Steel Ministry, will be placed before the Committee of Secretaries shortly.

With a Rs 1,000-crore investment plan in steel making facilities, Neelachal reported a net profit in 2004-05, the first year of commercial operations. Though it now produces only pig iron, the plant's potential has gone up after it was awarded a captive iron ore block last year.

Earlier, the Commerce Ministry had scrapped a proposal of the MMTC, the main promoter of Neelachal, to include a strategic partner in the project through the open tender route due to last-minute objections from the Orissa Government.

On the SAIL proposal, Mr M.P. Gupta, a Director of MMTC, told Business Line,

"The Union Commerce Ministry will deliberate on SAIL's proposal and we cannot comment on the same."

Asked whether the MMTC was agreeable to the proposal, he said his company would go by the Ministry's verdict.

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