31 October 2009

Six remarkable unknown PSUs

Six remarkable unknown PSUs

Six remarkable unknown PSUs

By Moinak Mitra, ET Bureau

Till recently, not many people had heard of Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam. Then the government announced that the company would a candidate for divestment in the coming months and now everyone is suddenly interested in knowing more about Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam.

With the government preparing for another round of divestment, a fresh new set of public sector undertakings (PSUs) are preparing to capture the limelight. They’re not the big ticket ‘navratnas’ like ONGC, SAIL and GAIL which the public has come to recognise. Instead, they are hitherto unknown companies and nobody is quite sure what they do. The companies picked by the Government for divestment are all set to become familiar names for investors in the months to come.

Meanwhile, Corporate Dossier decided to pre-empt matters by taking a close look at six little-known PSUs that have executed remarkable turnarounds in recent years.


CMD: Anju Banerjee

Under Banerjee’s leadership, EDCIL’s turnover has grown from just Rs 25 crore to over Rs 54 crore and its grading by the Department of Public Enterprises has moved up from ‘fair’ to ‘excellent’. In educational projects, typically, the gestation is long but Banerjee seems to be happy with the 10-16% margins her business bears.

Also, she has sketched out high-value areas for her company, quality certification and school accreditation, technical audit for institutional construction, IT education, educational fairs and online testing facilities. Categorised as a ‘Mini Ratna’ by the government, EDCIL provides placement to international students from over 30 countries and sends expert faculty to more than 15 countries.

Today, 65% of the work comes from the government and the remaining 35% from the private sector. Banerjee wants a 50:50 ratio. “I want to get more private and international clients. I’d like to add more professionals and specialists to add value to our client base,” she says.

Heavy Engineering Corporation

CEO: GK Pillai

People do move from the public to the private sector, but Pillai’s reverse swing from the Sanmar Group in Chennai to HEC at nearly one-tenth the annual remuneration was an eye-opener.

Pillai takes pride in the fact that for the first time in the company’s 50-year-history, it has booked a profit for three consecutive years. The turnover per employee has improved from Rs 4.41 lakh in 2004-05 to Rs 15.73 lakh today.

In 2007-08, sales spiked to Rs 413 crore from Rs 297 crore in the previous year. And in 2008-09, the sales have touched Rs 454 crore with a profit of Rs 18 crore against a targeted profit of only Rs 6 crore. In 1958, the company was created to serve the steel and coal sectors. But Pillai chose a strategic shift. “I want HEC to serve strategic sectors like defence, space and the nuclear.”

In other words, he realised it was time to de-commoditise the company, away from market fluctuations, toward the sweet spot of exclusivity. In line with the new thinking, HEC has developed a very special material for nuclear-grade steel and also supplied the heaviest (810 tonnes) launchpad for India’s space mission.

More @ Six remarkable unknown PSUs


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