Conquering infrastructure

While the world is going through an economic crisis, the Indian government is busy working on giving India a makeover by laying a strong infrastructural foundation in the country. One of the ways it is achieving this is through public private partnerships with companies like Abhijeet Group, one of the fastest growing Indian conglomerates in the field of infrastructure and industrial development,


 “The word ‘Abhijeet’ means ‘the conqueror’,” says Abhishek Jayaswal, the decisive and result oriented Managing Director of Abhijeet Group. With his inherent leadership and entrepreneurship skills combined with social and family values Abhishek has made the Nagpur-based Abhijeet Group, one of India’s growth drivers during the slowdown with a turnover of US$300m in 2007-08. Defying the global recessionary trends, Abhijeet Group is eyeing a 100% increase in the current fiscal year and plans to achieve a US$1.4bn turnover target in the next three years.


Operating in five sectors - power, roads, steel, mining and ferro alloys - Abhijeet Group has invaluable experience in infrastructure and participates in several projects in partnership with the Indian government. "Infrastructure is one of the sectors, which is not affected much by the current global economic scenario, due to the huge unmet domestic demand in terms of power, roads or ports,” says Abhishek.


As India suffers from poorly maintained roads, airports, ports and unmet power demands, this lack of infrastructure is also one of the main reasons why private investors prefer investing only in Tier I cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore rather than smaller Indian cities like Pune and Nagpur. As an active participant in making underdeveloped potential markets accessible to the world, in 2007 Abhijeet Group clinched a mega deal for the US$270m power project specifically for Multimodal International Hub Airport (MIHAN) and Special Economic Zone (SEZ) by the Government of Maharashtra, by emerging as the lowest bidder in an international commercial bidding.


MIHAN is the biggest economical development project currently underway in India. The state of the art power plant is located in Nagpur and spreads over 65-hectare land under MIHAN. Once operational, Abhijeet Group will be responsible for generating, maintaining, the transmission and the distribution of 225MW coal-based power to a region spread across 4500 hectares.


“This end-to-end type of a project is a unique, lucrative and an unprecedented project in the city of Nagpur,” says Abhishek. The project has already begun creating ripples in the Nagpur economy by boosting the city’s property prices and it is also expected to create more direct and indirect employment opportunities in the near future. From an environmental perspective, 500,000 trees would be planted and there would be no polluting industries in MIHAN. “Having domiciled in the city for last 35 years, we believe that we owe this project to people of the Nagpur. The first phase is expected to be complete by April 2010," Abhishek adds with excitement. Giving a boost to the increasing economic activity in Nagpur, the government plans to invest nearly US$300m to improve and upgrade infrastructure as well as mass transit links like road and air.


The group forayed into the infrastructure sector just over 10 years ago. “My father and founder chairman Manoj Jayaswal saw huge infrastructure shortage in the country and pioneered into the infrastructure sector in 1998, with the first Build Operate Transfer (BOT) toll road project," Abhishek, who was in college at the time, explains.


"As the project CEO, I was given the responsibility of building the team, getting the project implemented and executed successfully. The most challenging part was to get the toll road financed.” But Abhishek’s knack for the business was evident and the project was implemented ahead of schedule.


There was no stopping after that and Abhijeet Group successfully implemented various other infrastructure projects ahead of schedule, including constructing a section of the Golden Quadrilateral. The largest highway network in India, it connects Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, and Abhijeet Group constructed the Neelmangala-Tumkur section near Bangalore.


The Group is now well known for being able to successfully carry out projects and complete them before the due date, which is otherwise practically unheard of.


With strong skill sets in venture creation, financing and project execution, Abhijeet Group, under Abhishek’s leadership, is currently busy pursuing its Vision 5000, which is about developing, building and implementing infrastructure projects across India in the next few years. The group plans on investing approximately US$8bn in building steel plants and power plants along with other Infrastructure projects in the country. Abhishek is confident that the global economic turmoil is unlikely to have any major impact on the company’s investment potential. "The Group has a capex of US$1.5bn, 50% of which will be invested by the financial closure for the year 2008-09 and the balance will be fulfilled in the next few months. Abhijeet Group is poised for major growth in the next few years,” he adds optimistically.


“We have been aggressively working on Vision 5000. In the power sector we will be investing US$5bn to set up, pithead based thermal power generation capacity of 5000MW in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and West Bengal, which are already in their various stages of development and execution and are expected to be commissioned in the next five to six years,” says Abhishek.


Seizing opportunities by developing innovative strategies and seamless execution, Abhijeet Group added another feather to its cap by recently tying up with Australian Mining Thiess Leighton India Pvt. Ltd to create, India’s first world class mining facility with a US$0.9bn coal mining contract. The Group has taken up an ambitious target of setting up five MTPA, integrated steel plants in the states of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Maharastra, which are currently under various advance stages of implementation. The government has also allotted a number of captive coal and iron ore mines to the group, for its iron and steel and power generation.


"We believe that cost efficiency and consistent availability of coal in quantity and quality from captive sources affects the long term sustainability of the projects and impacts its commercial viability,” says Abhishek. “Hence, we have acquired a number of coal mines from the coal ministry, thereby making the thermal power generation highly cost competitive."


Talking about future plans, Abhishek says: “Abhijeet Group is one of the largest producers of manganese alloys in India and is taking huge strides towards becoming one of the top five global producers, in the next five years. Even in today’s market scenario, the group has tied up to raise US$70m from a reputed a private equity firm and plans on making a public offer by 2010, to raise additional capital.”


Aware of corporate social responsibility, Abhijeet Group, is also setting up projects in areas where local people are deprived of basic civic amenities and rarely get power for more than 10 to 12 hours a day. The power supply they do get is often so low that it is of little use.


They are currently working in the eastern state of Jharkhand. “The site for the Jharkhand project, like all our projects was selected keeping in mind that least level of inconvenience is created for the local people,” explains Abhishek. “We believe in winning hearts and invested US$2m in laying down transmission lines to provide free power and maintenance to the local people. It was priceless to see, tears of joy in their eyes as they celebrated Diwali.”


The philanthropic arm of Abhijeet Group, Abhijeet foundation, which believes in empowering people has adopted around 10 villages and provides them with basic amenities such as clean drinking water, sanitation facilities and education. Young adults are sponsored for technical training at institutes, along with on-site training, for at least six months. There is also a scheme where the youth are provided stipends to ensure that the units are assured of uninterrupted supplies of quality manpower, thereby creating a win-win situation. 


“Power, education, health and employment are fundamentals of leading a quality life,” says Abhishek as he and Abhijeet Group work hard to conquer India’s development issue.

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