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Most Indian firms in Egypt continue normal operations

According to the Indian Embassy in Cairo, Indian companies have seven functional joint ventures and 11 wholly owned subsidiaries in Egypt.

Jayanta Mallick

Kolkata, Jan. 31

Most of the 300-odd Indian companies, having joint ventures or wholly-owned subsidiaries or offices in Egypt, have been continuing normal operations. On the seventh day of the unrest in the North African country, officials of several Indian companies told Business Line that the operations in the manufacturing bases and working of offices have not been affected.

Except for GAIL, which has two of its staff members stationed in Cairo, none of the companies that Business Line spoke to, here or in Egypt, was planning to evacuate employees out of the country.

Units affected

Mr Ashu Pareek, Joint President and Unit Head of Alexandria Fiber Co, an Aditya Birla Group controlled joint venture, said the unit's operations have not been affected. “Uneasy situation prevails, but it is not alarming. We have 600 people on our rolls that include Indians as well as locals. The three-shift working schedule has been slightly readjusted to coincide with 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew period,” he added.

A top official of the Oberoi group said that phone lines are not working properly in Egypt. “However, through our Australian office, which oversees Egyptian interests of the group, we learnt that some the Indian executives were safe.”

Mr Prashant Goenka, Director of Emami Ltd, which recently acquired assets of two FMCG units in Alexandria, said, “The units are not operational at this moment. There are no old local employees on our rolls. We have just sent four people from India to work out a blueprint for setting up a new manufacturing unit there. We hope the current situation will normalise in a matter of a weeks.”

Spokesperson of GAIL, which has minority stakes in three Egyptian city gas and CNG distributions outfits, said the public sector organisation would evacuate two of its personnel at the earliest.

Embassy speaks

According to the Indian Embassy in Cairo, Indian companies have seven functional joint ventures and 11 wholly-owned subsidiaries in Egypt. Apart from that, scores of Indian companies have regular office establishments, representatives and agents in this important emerging market. For many of the Indian companies, Egypt is a raw material sourcing point, particularly in case of oil and gas. . It also serves as a manufacturing and marketing base for the West Asia-Saharan markets. The top Indian companies with investments in Egypt are Wipro (outsourcing), Mahindra & Mahindra (automotive and IT services), Jindals (Steel) and Tatas (consumer products, IT services). Essel Propack among others has manufacturing base in country.

Chennai//Mumbai bureaus report: A spokesperson for Mahindra Satyam said that all its employees in Egypt are local staffers and hence there is no question of movement of people. He assured that the company's operations ‘are not very big' and that there is no disruption to customers serviced out of Cairo and Egypt.

Wipro, meanwhile, is also monitoring the situation in Egypt. It had set up a centre in that country in 2007 and had about 100 employees in 2009. Wipro had a stated headcount target of 400 sometime this year.

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