Showcase: Speeches: Chairman, BILT

From: Chairman, BILT

Two years ago I had suggested that as modernization gathers momentum, the ability to manage change would be crucial to our success. As the edifice of the Licence Raj crumbles, as tariff barriers are brought down and monopolies vanish, Indian industry is suddenly exposed to winds of dramatic change.

The changes will have an impact on BILT too, but fortunately we have anticipated many of them, and with your approval taken several steps to sharpen our competitive edge. I am pleased to report to you that all of our investments in modernization, acquisitions and diversifications have been completed and all the plants commissioned. These investments strengthen our market share, increase operating efficiencies and enable us to focus on the speciality markets that have been BILT’s strengths. Their impact on profitability will be evident in the current year’s results.

I am also pleased to report to you that thanks to your generous support, we have successfully re-capitalised the company, substituted a large part of debt with equity which, in turn, will bring down interest costs, improve EPS and enhance our ability to make further investments.

Low leverage, modernization, international competitiveness, technological leadership and a focus on core strengths are the new mantras of management. But, BILT, which has always had a reputation for driving technology, has already taken the initiative to stay ahead on all of the other key issues.

The BILT of today is perceptibly different from the BILT of the ’70s and ’80s. It is leaner, fitter, more agile and in better shape to face the future than ever before.

The commissioning of Choudwar and Sewa paper mills and the completion of modernisation at Ballarpur will enable us to manufacture papers conforming to international quality norms. The strategy to dominate the speciality paper market has yielded us dividends, and the new acquisitions have further enlarged our market share, bringing us one step closer to international standards of economies of scale.

The logic of a pre-emptive investment on an international scale has begun to pay off in the glass container business as well. The successful commissioning of South Asia’s first fully computerized factory in Pondicherry established our position as a global player and India’s largest exporter in the field. Our pharmaceutical vials are exported to Hoechst and Pfizer; the non-returnable bottles that we have pioneered have met with instant success in India and the Middle East. And to cap it all we are the largest supplier to the leading soft-drink multinationals of India.

As BILT continues to think global, it is acutely aware that the new business environment is not exactly a level playing field since the multinationals are wooed on their own terms. While the fruits of past investments will enhance BILT’s reputation as one of the prized blue chips, there comes a time in the life of a company, howsoever fundamentally sound, when it must strive to surpass its earlier achievements and seek new challenges – to invigorate itself as it prepares for the future.

That time is now at hand for BILT. It shall now be our strategy to focus even more tightly on our core competence and to dovetail our export drive with India’s natural competitive advantage. From the former might emerge strategic disinvestment decisions, and from the latter identification of processed foods and edible oils as key thrust areas.

The task is daunting; the challenges are many. But BILT has what it takes.
I salute the enterprise, the ability and resolve of our people; the support of our business associates and the faith of our shareholders.
I am confident that a re-invigorated BILT will successfully meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.

L.M. Thapar
Chairman, BILT