BEL diversifying into civilian sectors to spur growth

Last Updated: Thu, Jun 06, 2019 15:03 hrs
Bharat Electonics (Image Courtesy: BEL)

Bengaluru: State-run Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) is diversifying into more civilian areas to spur its corporate growth in fiscal 2019-20, a top company official said on Saturday.

"As diversification into non-defence opportunities will drive our growth, we are entering into more verticals in the civilian sector, including space electronics, solar, homeland security, smart cards, telecom, railways, civil aviation, fuel cells and lithium batteries," BEL Chairman M.V. Gowtama told reporters here.

Though the city-based defence behemoth caters largely to the Indian armed forces, including the army, Navy and Air Force, it has been foraying into more civilian space for diversification and broad-basing its business, rolling out electronic voting machines (EVMs), solar panels for intelligent traffic management signals and set-top boxes for direct-to-home digital broadcasting services.

"We supplied over a million EVMs and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) units to the Election Commission for conducing the recent Lok Sabha elections across the country. Our machines were used in 400 of the 542 parliamentary seats. The order contributed Rs 2,600 crore business in fiscal 2018-19," Gowtama said.

"The poll panel also used EVMs and VVPATs made by the Hyderabad-based state-run Electronics Corporation of India (ECIL) in the remaining 142 parliamentary seats," he said after presenting the financial performance of the 'Navaratna' company.

The company will supply more EVMs and VVPATs to the states where assembly elections are due later this year or early next year. The orders will be for new machines and upgraded versions to replace the older voting machines.

"We expect orders worth Rs 600 crore from the states to supply EVMs and VVPATs in this fiscal (2019-20) and more orders from other states where assembly elections are due."

Of the Rs 51,798-crore order book value the company has for this fiscal, around 50 per cent of it (Rs 25,000 crore) is from the Navy, Rs 9,000 crore from the Army, Rs 7,000 crore as annual management contracts (AMCs) and upgrades and Rs 3,000 crore from civilian sector.

"Our capital expenditure for this fiscal will be Rs 660 crore for new facilities in Hyderabad plant, Palasamduram in Andhra Pradesh's Chittoor district, Bengaluru, Bhatinda in Punjab and Jodpur in Rajasthan," said the Chairman.

A portion of the capex will also be spent on modernising the plant machinery to overcome obsolescence, which is rapid in the electronics domain.

In the defence business, the company received orders for supplying the long range surface-to-air (SAM) missiles for the Navy's Project-17A class Shivalik stealth frigate, integrated perimeter security system for the air force, home land security system for naval airfield and naval equipment (war reserves) and setting up of weapon repair facility at naval shipyards.

"We have also got export orders valued at $117 million (Rs 807 crore) for making vacuum interrupters, X-ray parts, transmitting tubes and EMI (electro-magnetic interference) filters," added Gowtama.