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Published on: Dec. 8, 2023, 3:55 p.m.
BTL scales up for big moment
  • Yadadri thermal power project: prestigious for BTL

By Sajal Bose. Executive Editor, Business India

At the first glance, BTL EPC Limited (BTL) is an archetype engineering project contractor firm that grew around the public sector behemoths. The closely-held company has made its presence felt in the large industrial landscape and grown without much noise. Now, BTL management has successfully taken the company as a multi-disciplinary engineering, procurement and construction major, with diverse interests, to join the nation’s infrastructure ambitions. 

BTL has effectively won new businesses and added significant skills in design, engineering & execution of projects in bulk material handling plant, coal & chemical plant, ash handling system, process equipment, metal & mineral beneficiation, water management, power transmission, environment management, metal preparation and steel plant utilities.

“We are a diversified EPC contracting company offering one-stop solutions from concept to commissioning, with in-house design and highly qualified team of engineers,” says Ravi Todi, managing director, BTL. Over the years its reputation has been resting in its ability to get its part of the work done quietly, on time and with certainty, unfazed by funding and payment issues. 

BTL EPC is an engineering firm from the stable of the Kolkata-based Shrachi group, founded by the late S.K. Todi. Shrachi group began its journey in 1965 by taking over a small factory in Dum Dum, in the northern part of Calcutta, which was then an industrial belt. The factory was called Bengal Casting. Todi renamed it Bengal Tools Limited and started a dies & tools design and manufacturing factory.

Gradually, the group expanded into businesses as diverse as real estate, agro-machinery, engineering & EPC and stationery under the able leadership of S.K. Todi and his sons Ravi and Rahul. After the demise of S.K. Todi, BTL’s engineering and EPC businesses are run by his elder son Ravi, while Rahul manages the real estate business of the Rs1,200 crore group. 

BTL is the leader amongst the EPC players, with its own manufacturing units pan India. An experienced bulk material-handling player, BTL involves in designing, manufacturing, supply, erecting and commissioning on a turnkey basis and serves in sectors like steel, power, oil & gas, cement, coal, mining and minerals, etc. 

BTL delivers solutions to India’s leading companies, such as BHEL, NTPC, BARC, CESC, Coal India, OFB, Centuryply, SAIL, Tata Steel, JSW, Indian Oil, Haldia, ONGC, NALCO, among others, by adapting to the unique infrastructural and engineering needs of the day. “We have a strong order book of close to Rs2,000 crore and power EPC contributes 80-85 per cent to our company’s total revenue,” says Amitava Guin, director, BTL. The company’s revenue today is Rs520.90 crore. 

The battle for McNally 

Ravi Todi, 54, with his canny business sense, has grown the company significantly. He had hit the headlines when BTL participated in the bidding process and successfully acquired the ailing McNally Bharat Engineering in July this year. The debt-laden Kolkata-based McNally Bharat Engineering had landed at NCLT, after the B.M. Khaitan group lost control over it.

  • Todi: ‘the McNally acquisition is a good move’

    Todi: ‘the McNally acquisition is a good move’

A listed entity, McNally Bharat is one of India’s leading engineering companies, engaged in providing turnkey solutions in the areas of power, steel, coal & mining, ports, aluminum, material handling, mineral processing, cement, water, oil & gas and infrastructure sectors such as buildings & townships, high rises, roads, metro, rail, etc. The company has till date constructed over 350 plants on turnkey basis. In 2011, McNally had celebrated its golden anniversary (1961-2011). It has ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001: 2004 and OHSAS18001 certifications and has received numerous safety awards at different project sites.

BTL had received a letter of intent (LoI) from the resolution professional (RP) of McNally. The issuance of LoI marked an important milestone in the fiercely contested battle for McNally between BTL and the Naveen Jindal group firm Nalwa Steel Power. 

BTL’s bidding was for Rs411 crore, which included cash component and bank guarantee protection. BTL EPC also offered 5 per cent equity in McNally Bharat to the lenders as part of the resolution plan. However, from a debt of Rs3,700 crore, the lenders are expected to take huge haircuts. The highest claims of Rs725 crore was submitted by Bank of India. BTL has submitted its plans to the National Company Law Tribunal for approval. Only after the approval of the tribunal can the takeover go ahead. BTL management is expecting the approval soon.

“Our business line is similar to McNally Bharat,” says Todi, commenting on the synergies of the acquisition. “It has the best credentials in the EPC segment and can bid for any project. This will help us tremendously in the growing infrastructure segment.” He also believes that creating reputation in EPC takes more than a decade or so. Currently the order book of McNally is over Rs1,200 crore. In 2022-23, it had posted a loss of Rs2,471.2 crore on a total income of Rs270.06 crore. It has a current manpower of 400 people. To fund the acquisition, Todi is also talking to some investors.  

As a part of this ambitious growth plan, Todi earlier had taken over Tantia Constructions Ltd, a Kolkata-based listed firm, which is a pioneer in civil & infrastructure projects, with an order book of Rs150 crore. 

A mid-segment EPC company, BTL today operates with four manufacturing units, of which three are in Kolkata, while one unit is located in Durgapur. It produces most of its products to provide turnkey solutions to various sectors and industries.

The main manufacturing unit is situated in Dum Dum in Kolkata. Some of the key products it makes or assembles there are used for bulk material handling like rollers, idlers, pulleys, pressure vessels, pipe conveyer, travelling tripper. The list also includes coal and chemical equipment like agitator tank, distillation/ process column, silo for fly/bed ash, furnace and furnace equipment, shell and tube heat exchangers, among others. 

Quality assurance

The unit has skilled workers and are well-equipped with modern machine shops, which include heat treatment, precision grinding and fabrication facilities to produce many critical and complex industrial products. The quality assurance programme meets the most stringent parameters. BTL is also makes customised items for the ministry of defence.

  • Guin: ‘We have a strong order book’

The in-house design & engineering team possesses state-of-the-art equipment and infrastructure. The qualified and experienced team of engineers and managers are the backbone of the company. “The in-house manufacturing facilities give us an edge in the EPC segment,” Guin asserts.

However, the Dum Dum unit is now facing space-constraints and, therefore, maintaining the house-keeping and environmental norms is facing major challenges. The locality has turned into a residential area after several industrial units sold the land to real estate developers.  Guin acknowledges the difficulties: “We are planning for a bigger space in Howrah to shift our unit to and also for future expansion.”

Todi’s daughter Rhea, 25, a graduate from Chapman University in California, has now joined the business. She is involved with the agro-machinery division (Agrimech), looking at marketing, distribution, HR and sales. 

Growing the agro division

The agro-machinery division makes power equipment like tillers, weeders and reapers, as also garden tools like brush cutters, chain saws, etc. Apart from providing crop-based farm mechanisation solutions to its customers, it also provides prompt after-sales service, ensuring minimum downtime, easy availability of genuine spare-parts, doorstep service and trained technicians at every dealer point. 

“My commitment is to make a meaningful impact in the field of farm mechanisation. Hence, we are planning to increase the dealer network pan India from 250 to 500 by the next financial year,” Rhea points out. The current revenue for agro machinery division is below Rs100 crore and Rhea’s ambition is to take it to Rs250-300 crore by 2026. 

BTL has successfully executed several large prestigious projects, such as belt conveyor system for transportation of calcined dolomite at SAIL-DSP; crusher building and associated conveyors at SAIL, Bolani; coal handling plant for CESC at Haldia; coal storage handling system for NALCO in Angul; and pet coke handling system for IOCL at Paradip. 

Some of the ongoing projects of BTL include ash and coal handling at Yadadri, Telangana; mechanical transport arrangement at NTPC’s Pakri Barwadih coal mining project; coal handling plant of 2 x 660 MW BIFPCL Bangladesh Maitree STPP; and a main conveyor package for 2 x 660 MW super-critical thermal power project (stage 1) at Udangudi. 

“The Yadadri thermal power project for Telangana State Generation Co (TSGENCO) is a prestigious contract for us,” says Todi. “We also have got contracts to build 5 x 8 MW ash handling and also 5 x 8 MW coal handling plants. Our project value is close to Rs700 crore.” BTL has received this order from BHEL, the main EPC contractor for the project. 

The scope of supply and services includes design, engineering, selection of equipment, manufacturing, supply of mechanical, electrical and C&I equipment. BTL is a known player in the coal handling system but, for the first time, it has been receiving orders for ash handling too. Executing the project will give the company a big boost.

TSGENCO is constructing a coal-based supercritical thermal power plant of total capacity 4,000 MW (with five units each of capacity 800 MW) in phases at a cost of Rs30,000 crore. This would be the second largest power plant in South India, the first phase of which is expected to be commissioned by March 2024, with the entire project getting ready by March 2025.

  • Rhea Todi: planning to grow the agro machinery division

    Rhea Todi: planning to grow the agro machinery division

“We have been working closely with BTL since 2006,” says Ashok K, executive director, BHEL. “They have been doing several projects for us, including the Yadardi thermal power platform. Their performance is consistent. They are one of our premium vendors”. But he also feels that the company needs to streamline its efficiency in ash handling.

 “BTL is an old reputed engineering company that has been performing well in the EPC segment.  McNally Bharat acquisition is a good move by the company and will provide them a huge advantage for their business growth,” says Sujit Samanta director, S.K. Samanta & Co, a Kolkata-based competitor in EPC.

The EPC segment evolution indicates improvements of infrastructure developments in the country. Infrastructure sector is a key driver for the Indian economy. It also has intense focus on government’s initiating policies. India’s infrastructure sector market is expected to grow from $185 billion in 2023 to $290 billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 9.57 per cent during the forecast period (2023-28). In the Union Budget 2023-24, the capital investment outlay for infrastructure was increased by 33 per cent to Rs10 lakh crore ($122 billion), which is 3.3 per cent of the GDP. 

McNally Bharat’s acquisition is likely to open an opportunity to BTL for merger or reverse-merger. Todi acknowledges these possibilities but is cautious and refuses to offer any comments before the formal acquisition. 

Meanwhile, the BTL management has set a target. It plans to achieve revenues of Rs1,000 crore by 2025!

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