Essar proposes 6 mn tonne refinery in Uganda

If accepted by Uganda, this would be the second refinery of Essar Oil in Africa

Ruias-owned Essar Oil Ltd has proposed to set up a 6 million tonne refinery in Uganda even as it plans to invest $1 billion in more than doubling capacity of its Kenya refinery.

"There has been a big oil find in Uganda. To process it, they will need a refinery. We have suggested to the Ugandan government that we can set up that refinery," said L K Gupta, the new CEO and managing director of Essar Oil.

If accepted by Uganda, this would be the second refinery of Essar Oil in Africa. In July 2009, the firm had acquired 50 per cent stake in Kenya Petroleum Refinery Ltd which operates in Mombassa.

Essar has a 14 million tonne refinery at Vadinar, Gujarat and had recently acquired a 296,000 barrels per day Stanlow refinery in UK. The Mombasa refinery had a capacity of 3.7 million tonne but was operating at 1.6 million tonne only. The company plans to invest $1 billion in revamping and expanding the operating refining capacity to 4 million tonne by 2015-16. Gupta said the proposal was only at discussion stage and nothing has been finalised as yet. "We are in talks. Nothing has been firmed up yet." Detailed feasibility for the expansion would be ready by April 2012, he said, adding that the refinery is dependent on unreliable grid power which has seen 100 disruptions in past two years. A captive power plant would be set up as part of the expansion, he said. Gupta said Essar, which is expanding Vadinar capacity to 20 million tonne by next year, is looking at exporting fuel from India into Africa. Essar Petroleum (East Africa) Ltd has been set up for import of crude and products, he said.

East Africa is deficit in refining capacity and relies on imports to meet its demand.

As for Vadinar refinery, Gupta said that in the second phase its capacity would be expanded to 34 million tonne. Essar operates over 1,300 petrol pumps in India and another 300 are in various stages of commissioning, he said, adding that the company does not intend to expand its retail network aggressively unless the government deregulates diesel prices.

The company and other private retailers like Reliance Industries are unable to compete with state-owned firms like IOC who get subsidy from government for selling fuel below cost.

In the early afternoon, Essar Oil was trading at around Rs65.75 per share on the Bombay Stock Exchange, 1.94% down from the previous close.

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Lupin eyes USD 300 mn revenues from Japan in next 2 years

Lupin through its enhanced presence is aiming to become one of the top five generic pharmaceutical companies in Japan in the next three years.

Drug maker Lupin is eyeing a jump of over 80% in its revenues to USD 300 million (about Rs1,557 crore) from the Japanese market in the next two years on the back of its enhanced presence in the country. The company, which is present in Japan through its subsidiary Kyowa Pharmaceutical Industry, has strengthened its presence with the acquisition of I'rom Pharmaceuticals for an undisclosed amount.

"Besides US and India, Japan is a priority market for Lupin, and between the two companies in Japan (Kyowa and I'rom), Lupin looks to clock in revenues of about USD 300 million over the next two years from the present about USD 165 million," Lupin President (Finance & Planning) and CFO S Ramesh told PTI.

Last month, Kyowa had entered into an agreement with I'rom Holdings Co Ltd (IH), an integrated healthcare provider to acquire up to 100% of outstanding shares of its subsidiary, I'rom Pharmaceuticals (IP). Lupin had earlier bought Kyowa in 2007.

The Mumbai-headquartered firm has been strong in the oral segment in Japan and with the new acquisition it would also get access into the injectable space. The company, through its enhanced presence is aiming to become one of the top five generic pharmaceutical companies in Japan in the next three years. Currently, Lupin is the ninth largest generic player in the Japanese market. Apart from Japan, the company is also eyeing to enter other markets, including Latin America and Europe. "In terms of markets of interest we are currently evaluating entries into certain markets in Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe," Ramesh said.

In the early afternoon, Lupin was trading at around Rs433 per share on the Bombay Stock Exchange, 1.84% down from the previous close.

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HDFC Bank plans to complete national roll-out of m-paise in 15 months

Customers are able to carry out basic banking transactions through mobile phones and even deposit and withdraw cash at appointed Vodafone m-paisa outlets

Banking major HDFC Bank is looking at completing within 15 months the nation-wide roll-out of the MobileBank account 'm-paisa' facility that it launched recently with Vodafone. The m-paisa was inaugurated last month in Rajasthan. "After Rajasthan, we are looking at Orissa and Bihar for roll out of the m-paisa. In another 15 months, we should complete the national roll-out," HDFC managing director Aditya Puri told PTI.

Under the m-paisa arrangement, customers are able to carry out basic banking transactions through mobile phones and even deposit and withdraw cash at appointed Vodafone m-paisa outlets, without having to go to bank branches. "We will also upgrade the m-paisa scheme to enable EMI repayment, merchant payment, credit disbursement and pre-paid airtime soon," Puri said.

The "first-of-its-kind" national initiative for financial inclusion through mobile banking was unveiled in the presence of the Reserve Bank deputy governor K C Chakrabarty in Chomu, near Jaipur, in late November. In Rajasthan, which is the first state where the partnership has been implemented, over 2,200 retailers across 320 villages and 54 towns are already operational in opening HDFC Bank MobileBank Accounts with Vodafone m-paisa. The transactions include cash deposit, cash withdrawal, money transfer and balance enquiry.

"Our aim is to promote viable financing which will be viable for the individual, viable for the bank and viable for the society," Puri said.

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Mahaveer Singh Rathroe

5 years ago

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