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Grasim to continue with planned VSF brownfield expansion as capacities set to reach pre-covid levels by Q4

MUMBAI: Aditya Birla Group’s flagship company Grasim Industries is going ahead with its Rs 3,523-crore viscose fibre business brownfield expansion in Gujarat, albeit with revised timelines, after having attained 75 per cent capacity utilisation levels in the June quarter.

“The company’s Capex plan for FY21 has been calibrated to Rs. 1,615 crore as of now. … company has decided to continue the Vilayat viscose staple fibre brownfield expansion with revised timelines,” said Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla in his address to shareholders of Grasim Industries.

Both the VSF and Chemicals businesses of Grasim are now operating at about 80 per cent of pre-covid capacity, after a low of 23 per cent witnessed in April.

“We expect to be back to pre-covid capacity by Q4,” Birla said at Grasim’s 73rd virtual annual general meeting.

The company reported a 72 per cent year-on-year decline in its consolidated net profit for the quarter ended June of FY21 at Rs 353 crore against Rs 1,294 crore a year earlier. Grasim’s consolidated revenue from operations stood at $ 11 billion (Rs. 77,625 Crore) and consolidated EBITDA stood at $ 2 billion (Rs. 13,846 Crore) for FY 2019-20.

Grasim Industries with businesses as diverse as cement, chemicals and has initiated measures to optimize operations across plants, reduce fixed costs and conserve cash.

“Given the uncertain business environment, Grasim’s current strategic focus is built on four pillars,…demand creation through innovative products, cost rationalization, agility, and cash flow focus,” Birla said.

Across the businesses, the company’s fixed costs have reduced by 35 per cent, which amounts to savings of Rs. 256 crores compared to the FY20 quarterly average, He added.

During the lockdown, the company tapped the export markets and launched Grasim’s Liva brand that forayed into antimicrobial fibre business. The chemicals business witnessed an upsurge in the demand for Chlorine value-added products driven by disinfectants and hygiene-related products.

“UltraTech embarked on a string of domestic acquisitions in recent years and its global capacity is now 114.7 million tonnes per annum up from about 70 million tonnes just 3 years ago,” Birla said.

Company’s financial services business, Aditya Birla Capital’s overall lending book stood at just under Rs. 60,000 Crore and the gross premium (across Life and Health Insurance) grew to Rs. 8,882 Crore.

“Based on your company’s performance and future outlook, your directors have recommended a dividend of Rs. 4 per equity share of face value of Rs. 2/- each for FY20. This entails a cash outgo of Rs. 263 Crore,” Birla said.

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