SAIL announces the highest-ever interim dividend of 19 per cent

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New Delhi, Jan 29 (UNI) The board of directors of the publc sector steel giant Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) at its meeting held here today announced a higher interim dividend of of 19 per cent as against 16 per cet paid last year.

This will lead to an outgo of funds to the tne of Rs 784.78 crores, announced the SAIL Chairman S K Roongta.

Addressing mediapersons here Mr Roongta said that this is for the fourth year in succession the company has announced this interm divdend.

He said the company's profitability improved during Q3 mainly due to improvement in its product-mix, substantial increase in production of special grade steel and value-added items, higher net sales realisation and special efforts towards cost reduction, in spite of sharp increase in cost of inputs such as ferro-alloys, additives like zinc, copper, etc and spares, as well as much higher employee remunerations.

Mr Roongta said SAIL registered its highest profit after tax of Rs 5,160 crore for the April-December period with a growth of 20 per cent.

He said the company has also recorded its highest first nine-month turnover at Rs 30,026 crores.

SAIL achieved record production of 11.3 Million Tonnes (MT) of hot metal, 10.4 MT of crude steel and 9.6 MT of saleable steel during the first nine months of the current financial year, he added.

He said around 3.7 Lakh Tonnes (LT) of additional finished steel were produced during the period from existing mills by maximising capacity utilisation, reducing production of semis, and thereby improving the share of finished steel to 84 per cent from 81 per cent.

Apart from this the continued improvement in major techno-economic parameters contributed significantly towards the performance. The important of these include, reduction in coke rate by 1 per cent at 526 kg, energy consumption by 3 per cent at 6.68 giga calories, increase in production through the energy-efficient CC route by 10 per cent, he stated.

Mr Roongta said the Q3 performance has improved also because of the sharp reduction in borrowings by Rs 412 crore to Rs 2,792 crore as on 31st December 2007.

Responding to questions Mr Roongta said the implementation of SAIL's expansion and modernisation plan by 2010 has proceeded with the placement of orders for several major packages at IISCO Steel Plant (ISP) and Salem Steel Plant.

Projects worth around Rs 20,000 crore have been sanctioned for implementation during the first nine months of the current financial year. Projects commissioned during the quarter included rebuilding of Blast Furnace2 at ISP and installation of HCL regeneration plant for PL-II of Bokaro Steel Plant's Cold Rolling Mill, he added.

He said the company has taken several strategic initiatives in recent months, some of which are: signing of an MoU with Tata Steel for development of coal mines, setting up Special Economic Zone at Salem, MoU with Railways for construction of 235-km new tracks in Dalli-Rajhara, Chhattisgarh, formation of joint venture company for cement plant at Bokaro, starting of processing units in different states and expanding the company's marketing network by appointing dealers in all districts of the country.

UNI BKS AK HS1713

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