Special Correspondent

Motion on chairman removal defeated at the AGM

KOLKATA: R. S. Loda, Chairman of the diversified company Birla Corporation Ltd. (BCL), said the company was planning to expand its cement capacity from 5.3 million tonnes to 10 million tonnes by 2010.

Talking to reporters after the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) here on Tuesday, he said the current Rs. 290 crore capacity expansion plan to be completed in 2008, would raise the capacity to seven million tonnes.

Greenfield project

Pointing out that Rs. 1,200 crore would be needed for the next phase, he said this might be a greenfield project at a new site.

Birla Corporation is a part of the M. P. Birla group, over which Mr. Lodha is embroiled in a legal battle with the Birlas. BCL has units in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal. Apart from cement, it produces jute goods and foundry items, PVC floor covering and auto trims. Cement contributes 92 per cent of the business.

Mr. Lodha indicated that he was not averse to the inorganic route for capacity expansion, but right now opportunities seemed to be limited. He told shareholders that with the entry of large corporate houses in retail chains and special economic zones (SEZs), the construction sector was likely to do well.

To a shareholder’s question on possibilities of real estate development at Birlapur, the company’s facility near Kolkata, Mr. Lodha said he had noted the suggestion but would not comment further on it. The AGM was devoid of the histrionics noticed since 2004 when the legal tussle first broke out between the Birlas and their once-trusted friend Mr. Lodha but it was not totally without interesting incidents.

A proposal to oust Mr. R S Lodha from the board, moved by a minority shareholder owning a single share was defeated by more than 98 per cent votes according to a company spokesman.