Sharp demand recovery in cement, realty showing animal spirit: Parth Jindal

Parth Jindal - Managing Director of JSW Cement and JSW Paints
With an aim to up its market share and enhance capacity, Parth Jindal, managing director of JSW Cement, has strong plans for the cement business. Jindal, also director of JSW US operations and JSW Ventures, tells Aditi Divekar about the roadmap for weak performing US units. Edited excerpts:

Experts say domestic cement demand in H1 FY21 dropped close to 30 per cent year-on-year. Where do you see it going ahead?

The demand recovery for cement in H2 of FY21 is sharp, with not just rural segment contributing to it but also massive government infrastructure projects. The real estate sector, too, is showing animal spirit with huge demand coming from housing. We expect to close FY21 with degrowth of 7 per cent in terms of demand from earlier estimate of degrowth of 10 per cent.

How do you plan to capture the growing demand in the domestic market?

We are looking to grow our market share in the domestic market, but have capacity constraints at present. We are also a relatively new player. We aim to grow our capacity to 25 million tonne over the next 2-3 years, and push up our market share to 10 per cent in each of south, east, and west regions where we are at 4 per cent, 7 per cent, and 5 per cent, respectively. Digitisation is another initiative where we are investing for better front-end intervention and have tied up with Mackenzie for the same.

JSW US operations are not performing well. What is your long-term plan?

The US operations have been a drag for us since we acquired it in 2008. But, over a period, we realised that only an efficient and modern equipment unit can create world-class facility. Accordingly, we invested about $350 million in both the plants for modernisation. We are confident this will help reap positive Ebitda no matter what part of the steel cycle we are in. Capex is on at both the plants and operations will restart in March. We also have a new management now at our US operations.

With the new US government in place, how do you see it benefit your operations?

We are not sure of the priority of the new US government. We understand that the infrastructure bill for this government is high, so it will augur well for us as demand for steel will go up. But, most importantly, we are expecting consistency in policy making. We suffered a lot due to Section-232 trade tariff.

Could you throw some light on JSW Ventures’ plans for start-ups? How do you see this venture growing?

We recently managed to get third-party funds of about Rs 200 crore and JSW Ventures is now a Rs 400-crore venture fund with only about Rs 100 crore coming from the family. Our aim is to invest in tech-enabled start-ups with India at core and taking them to the global market. We look to invest in entities, which have annual recurring revenues so that there is consistency in business. 

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