ITC to pump in Rs 8,000 crore for business growth

Written by Corporate Bureau | Kolkata, Jul 30 | Updated: Jul 31 2008, 05:59am hrs
ITC Ltd, the fast-moving consumer goods major, could be investing up to Rs 8,000 crore over the next few years to grow its various business, with the funds coming from its free reserves and the cash flows from its cigarettes business. Chairman YC Deveshwar said ITC would be looking for growth in every business that it is in, including some new ones.

Meanwhile, the company reported an 18% growth in net turnover to Rs 3,900 crore for the quarter to June 30, 2008, with the main driver being the non-cigarettes business as the company continued to scale up new FMCG businesses and grew its agri-business, hotels and paperboard & packaging businesses.

The profit after tax, at Rs 749 crore, was up 1% after adjusting for income tax refunds in the previous years quarter.

Our plans are aggressive enough to be able to absorb all this cash into the future growth, Deveshwar said after the companys 97th annual general meeting here Wednesday. Asked to quantify ITCs capital expenditure ahead, Deveshwar said: What you see as the capital work in progress in the balance sheet, the minimum is that, and then added: We dont declare it. Over the past couple of years, ITC has invested over Rs 4,000 crore in fixed assets, Deveshwar had told shareholders earlier to defend the lack of returns from its new businesses. According to the latest balance sheet, capital work in progress was around Rs 7,300 crore. Less investments, ITCs free reserves add up to around Rs 7,000 crore.

On ITCs recent forays into FMCG, Deveswar pointed out that the businesses selected by ITC had made it the only company that has every other FMCG company as a competitor.

On the tobacco business, now down to half the total revenues against 80-85% a few years ago, he said: We are in this business because it is a legal business, and in any case we require this business for building new businesses of the future, and those businesses we want to grow as fast as possible, he said. Deveshwar said ITC Infotech, a subsidiary, is also looking for an acquisition in the US. He declined to give details, but said the deal would be done soon.

Earlier, at the AGM, Deveshwar had waxed eloquent on the virtues of agro-forestry and how the use of wood in housing should be encouraged as wood is a good carbon sink.