Soma Mondal to take over the reins of SAIL as its first woman chairperson

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January 1, 2021 6:30 AM

The saving grace for the new chairperson, currently the company’s director-commercial, however, is the sharp rise in steel prices and its possibility of holding at the elevated level on the back of higher demand and iron ore supply shortage. SAIL, however, gains from both ends as it meets all its iron ore requirements from captive sources.

A section of SAIL’s employees’ union has already conveyed their displeasure over the issue to Mondal, but assured full support to the new chairperson in her endeavour to take the company to a greater height.A section of SAIL’s employees’ union has already conveyed their displeasure over the issue to Mondal, but assured full support to the new chairperson in her endeavour to take the company to a greater height.

Soma Mondal, who will take over the reins of state-run Steel Authority of India (SAIL) as its first woman chairperson on Friday, will have multiple tasks at hand. Paring the company’s debt from the current level of around Rs 50,000 crore, improving operating margin & employee productivity and setting the journey right for targeted doubling capacity to 50 million tonne per annum (mtpa) in 10 years are likely to be among her priorities.

The saving grace for the new chairperson, currently the company’s director-commercial, however, is the sharp rise in steel prices and its possibility of holding at the elevated level on the back of higher demand and iron ore supply shortage. SAIL, however, gains from both ends as it meets all its iron ore requirements from captive sources.

Coupled with buoyant steel market that is holding prices at 12-year high, SAIL’s stocks are hovering now at near 52-week high in the BSE. However, any vagaries in coking coal prices, benign till now, which SAIL largely banks on imports might spoil the party.

Another worry looming large is the long-pending wage revision of the company. Non-executives of the company, who are a majority, are waiting for a wage revision for five years now; while executives are also waiting for a revision since 2017.

A section of SAIL’s employees’ union has already conveyed their displeasure over the issue to Mondal, but assured full support to the new chairperson in her endeavour to take the company to a greater height.

Incumbent Anil Kumar Chaudhary, who retires on December 31 upon attaining the age of superannuation after taking charge a little over two years ago, has done commendable job turning the fate of the company around with some brave initiatives including offering employees sabbatical leave, with two successive years of profit even as SAIL was incurring losses in the previous three years starting with 2016.

A veteran in the metal sector, Mondal joined SAIL in 2017 from another state-run firm Nalco as its director commercial. Graduated in electrical engineering from National Institute of Technology-Rourkela in 1984, she started her career in Nalco.

“With the domestic steel capacity is likely to double over the next decade, as per the 300 MT capacity target set by the government, SAIL too has set a proportionate target for itself. The challenge, however, would be to strike a balance between funding the large expansion and maintaining a conservative capital structure,” said Jayanta Roy, senior vice-president, ICRA.

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