SICOM to float tenders for selloff partner

SICOM Ltd. is to float tenders for the appointment of a strategic partner during the proposed disinvestment of upto 26 percent.
The Maharashtra government holds a 49 percent stake and Unit Trust of India (UTI) has a 40 percent stake in SICOM and they have agreed to offload 14 percent and 12 percent respectively.

SICOM Chairman, Shri Ram Pradhan said that the proposed disinvestment would further strengthen its financial position and help focus on earning more income out of the advisory and consultancy services rather than concentrating on the financing long term projects in the traditional manufacturing sector.

SICOM has taken a policy decision to shift its focus from long term projects to short term projects and undertake assignments in advisory services in media and entertainment, tourism, information technology, infrastructure, logistics.

Plan to bring NPAs to below 10 percent

SICOM Ltd.’s NPAs have shot upto 16 percent of loan assets during 2001-02 compared to previous year’s 10.15 percent. It proposes to reduce it to less than 10 percent by April 01, 2003 during its ongoing financial restructuring plan. SICOM Chairman, Shri R.D. Pradhan told reporters after its 36th annual general meeting on 30th September, 2002 that it had made provision towards NPAs for the year 2000-01 and also undertook writing off of Rs.32 crore of NPAs.

According to Mr. Pradhan, SICOM’s networth had got eroded from Rs.232 crore to Rs.162 crore. He said that SICOM would pursue its financial restructuring and stop providing long term lendings keeping in view the continuing slowdown and recession, increased competition for business from banks and financial institutions in the small medium enterprise sector and declining interest rates.
Shri Pradhan said that SICOM was exploring the possibility of entering into strategic alliance with banks so that it would be in a position to convert SICOM into a financial facilitator for the state of Maharashtra.

SICOM would undertake fee-based assignments in the services sector including information technology, media and entertainment. Simultaneously, SICOM is optimistic about an increase in its networth after the proposed disinvestment.


MIDC to help revive floriculture in Maharashtra

APEDA and banks/FIs are working on a rehabilitation package to revive the fortunes of the export oriented floriculture units most of them in the Mavaltaluka in Pune.

On June 10, 2002, MIDC signed an MoU with APEDA to set up the Talegaon Floriculture Park on 210 hectares of land. M/s Censco of Holland has been appointed as the advisors for the development of the park. Plan for 50 hectares is ready and development work has started. There will be 40 plots (116 by 116 sq. mts.). MIDC will provide water, roads, electricity and entrepreneurs could also build their campus in the park. There will be common infrastructure for the floriculture units.

The Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board, Pune is setting up a Rs.14 crore national level post-harvesting technology training centre for horticulture and floriculture. Technical support for the hitech centre will come from Innovative Practical Training Centre, the Netherlands and financial assistance from FMO, Holland.

Maharashtra State Regional Development Corporation (MSRDC) has conceptualised an exhibition-cum-sales centre for horticulture and floriculture products on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. MSRDC has asked the Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board to prepare a report for the centre. The proposed centre will have a air-conditioned retail centre with dedicated sections for fruits, vegetables, flower, gardening and horticulture products. Cold store, ripening chamber, common facilities and office space will be allocated. This will be backed by recreation facility - juice bars and restaurants. Farmers cooperatives including Mahagrapes and Mahamangoes will participate.

There were about 35 export oriented units in Maharashtra. EOUs from Pune are exporting to the Netherlands, US, Japan, Germany, Switzerland and Singapore.

According to Dr. Arun S. Naphade, floriculture expert with the Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board, 12,000 hectares of land is under cultivation of flowers and floriculture under controlled conditions (poly-houses) accounts for 150 hectares. In the mid-90s farmers joined in 1994-95 by putting up smaller polyhouses. Major flowers grown under polyhouses are roses, carnations, lilies, gerberas and orchids. Open filed areas are into chrysanthemum, tuberose, gladiolus, asters, marigold, daizy, jasmines, mogra and dehlias.

In Maharashtra there are 740 small polyhouses but small farmers are unlikely to make a breakthrough in the export markets. High cost of freight, post-harvesting technologies and expensive packaging costs are beyond the reach of the farmers. The proposed auction house in Mumbai could help the export units and small farmers.

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