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Mon, Aug 27, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Tata Steel aims to more than double output

AFP , NEW DELHI

A Tata Steel plant is illuminated in Jamshedpur, India, on Jan. 30.

PHOTO: AFP

India's Tata Steel, the world's sixth-largest steelmaker since its purchase of Britain's Corus group, said it aimed to more than double production by 2015 as it celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding yesterday.

Tata Steel vaulted to sixth from 56th place in the world steel output rankings with its US$13.7 billion acquisition of Corus completed in April, and now has an annual production totaling 25.6 million tonnes.

By 2015, Tata Steel, flagship of the trucks-to-tea Tata corporate empire, hopes to add another 35 million tonnes to boost its worldwide annual production to 61.1 million tonnes, Tata Steel chief spokesman Sanjay Choudhry said.

"We have MOUs [memorandums of understanding], these are the plans, we will go forward on them," Choudhry said by telephone from the company's offices in Jamshedpur in eastern India.

The company expects to increase output by 28 million tonnes through planned greenfield projects in India and it has MOUs signed for projects abroad that would add another 7.5 million tonnes, he said.

The projected output by 2015 "doesn't include any acquisitions that may come along," Choudhry said.

Tata Steel stunned industry watchers late last year with its bold offer for the far larger Corus, Europe's second-largest steelmaker.

The purchase, India's biggest-ever foreign acquisition, marked the high point of what Indian financial magazine Business World called Tata Group chairman Rajan Tata's "magnificent obsession" to expand abroad.

The purchase was also seen as a sign that Indian companies, their coffers brimming thanks to an economy growing by a blistering 9 percent, were ready to "go global" with big-ticket purchases.

Choudhry said Tata Steel was scouting opportunities for more acquisitions amid ongoing consolidation in the steel sector as companies seek cost-savings.

"We are looking around globally and when there is something good, then we would like to move," he said.

"At any point of time we may have 15 to 20 proposals at various stages of evaluation," Choudhry said.

He said that digestion of Corus was going well.

"While we may be two separate entities -- Tata Steel and Corus, two business entities, we are looking at it with one vision, working as one entity," he said.

His statements came as Tata Steel marked the 100 years of its founding with gala celebrations attended by employees in the city of Jamshedpur established by company founder Jamsetji Tata on Aug. 26, 1907.

The anniversary comes just a month after Tata Steel reported record first-quarter profit of US$305.5 million, up 28.2 percent, boosted by sales to carmakers and construction firms.

Tata Steel, which harks back to the British colonial era, has helped underpin the Tata group's fortunes, becoming India's biggest private steel company and renowned for its cost-efficiency.

Aside from being a savvy businessman, founder Jamsetji Tata had a strong social conscience.

He accommodated his steel workers in a model company town in Jamshedpur and his employees worked just eight-hour days -- unheard of in that era.

"He believed the primary purpose of an industrial organization is to improve the quality of life of the community," the company Web site said.

Jamsetji passed on his philanthropic streak to his descendants who set up a charitable trust into which some of Tata's profits are still funneled.

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