Six months after taking control of Idcol Cement - now named Bargarh Cement - ACC, the country’s second largest cement manufacturer, has kicked off a major manpower rationalisation effort to improve profitability. Bargarh Cement, the 1.5Mt cement maker, now wholly-owned by ACC, recently cut manpower strength by 15 per cent to 800, and this number could go up further in the coming months. Company officials say that the improvement in operations, coupled with the reduction in manpower, has enabled the Orissa-based cement company to become profitable. Bargarh Cement, which used to be loss-making firm, reported a profit of around Rs 4.5 crore during the first half of ’04. Orissa-based Bargarh Cement was acquired by ACC for a total consideration of Rs 210 crore. Company officials do not rule out an eventual merger between the two companies, saying that a decision in this regard would be taken when the time is "right."
ACC itself has reduced staff strength by around 200 in the current fiscal. Even as profitability has improved due to better realisations, which are 15 per cent higher year-on-year, ACC is working towards revamping its operations to take advantage of a demand upsurge and neutralise the sharp increase in power and fuel prices. ACC is likely to increase its total capacity to 20Mt by the year-end, and is pumping in Rs 280 crore for the modernisation of its 1.3m-tonne cement facility at Chaibasa in Jharkhand. The unit is being converted into a modern dry process unit. Further plans include a 1Mt grinding unit at Gagal in Himachal Pradesh.