ITC to acquire US-based IT firm soon: Deveshwar

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Kolkata, Jul 30 (UNI) With a growing diversion away from cigarettes, tobacco major ITC ltd plans to acquire a US-based Information Technology firm very soon, company Chairman Y Deveshwar today said.

'' We are in talks with the company and hope it will materialise soon,'' Mr Deveshwar said at the company's 97th annual general meeting.

He said the acquisition would be made through ITC Infotech, a 100 per cent subsidiary of the company.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the AGM, Mr Deveshwar said ITC Infotech was doing well and would focus on the European market.

He also said that the company had plans to pick up stakes in companies in other sectors as well.

The conglomerate has already taken up a Rs 15,000 crore investment plan for its FMCG, hospitality, paperboards, paper&packaging and agri businesses.

The plans include expansion of the hotels business, enhancement of paperboards and paper business and diversification into coated and uncoated papers.

Talking on the tobacco business, Mr Deveshwar said the company considred it difficult to take it to a higher end because of the restrictive regulatory environment. '' It is difficult to make the tobacco business grow. Since the cigarette business is operating in a restrictive regulatory regime, we felt the need to 'create other legs of growth. We, therefore, ventured into new areas like FMCG,'' he said.

He informed that the cigarette business was now contributing about 47 per cent of the total turnover of ITC, while non-cigarette business contributed 53 per cent.

In reply to a question, Mr Deveshwar, however, said the company would carry on with its cigarette business since it provided resources required to enter new businesses in future. Over the next few years, most of the surplus cash will get absorbed in creating new assets, he said.

'' In the last two years, the company has invested some Rs 4,000 crore in fixed assets. The return on these investments would not come immediately but over a period of time.,'' he said.

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