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Essar Steel – The Comeback Giant On the back of highly volatile market dynamics, cheaper foreign supply and not so strong domestic steel demand, steelmakers in India have performed poorly over the last couple of fiscals; some barely even able to service their debts. The government has taken multiple steps to reverse this situation especially through restricting objectionable finish steel coming in and focusing on initiatives to push up demand. Balance sheets of some of Indian steel majors have also been affected by a meltdown of their international operations. Major steelmakers like Tata (Corus) & Essar (Minnesota) have either filed for Chapter 11 or looking out for a buyer or JV partner for their foreign units. Experts are of an opinion that with the global business climate continuing to look grim, Indian steel companies could undo overseas acquisitions and focus at home where consumption trends are relatively encouraging. The cover story is an attempt to evaluate the impact of government initiatives and amendments on major domestic players and the industry. Ruias-promoted Essar Steel that has been struggling for last almost 3 years owing to falling steel prices, increased competition from imported products, affected gas supply from Krishna-Godavari basin or even an explosion at its Kirandul-Vizag pipeline by Naxalites way back in 2011, has registered a growth of 48% in flat steel production at 1.22 million tonnes in Q1 of the current fiscal from 0.82 mnt during the year-ago period. Its iron ore pellet production also grew by 58% in Q1. The company says this was backed by a more stable market and lower raw material costs. Also the company, by the end of FY17, aims to achieve 80% utilization of its rated capacity. Except for Steel Plates which is largely exported, the company plans to direct most of its products to the domestic market.

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