21 October 2004

L&T Cement is now UltraTech Cement

"Excellent product quality and customer care to remain the hallmark of UltraTech"
— Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla

Launching UltraTech Cement, the new name of L&T Cement, in Mumbai today, Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, UltraTech Cement Ltd, stated that "nothing has changed except the name. So essentially what was earlier L&T cement, now transforms into UltraTech Cement".

Mr. Birla added that "In the cement sector, the erstwhile L&T Cement brand was indeed a much admired brand. I am confident this transition to UltraTech Cement will only help strengthen it further. Fundamentally, the quality, the technology, the plants and the people will remain unmatchable."

UltraTech Cement will continue to be manufactured in state-of-the-art plants at Kovaya and Jaffarabad in Gujarat, Awarpur in Maharashtra, Hirmi in Chattisgarh and Tadipatri in Andhra Pradesh. Likewise, they will continue to be supported by the grinding units at Durgapur, Jharsaguda, Aarkonam, Magadalla and Ratnagiri, and the packing terminals at Mangalore, Mumbai and Sri Lanka. "Excellent product quality and customer care will remain the hallmark of UltraTech," averred Mr. Birla.

Briefing the media on the brand transition, Mr. Birla remarked that the name UltraTech was the outcome of an indepth research across the country. "We wanted to mirror the DNA of L&T Cement in the new brand name. Our research study indicated that in the customers' mind, L&T stood for quality, technology and expertise. The name UltraTech with the tag line "The Engineer's Choice" aptly captures these features," commented Mr. Birla. The brand transition is expected to be completed in India by the end of December 2004.

UltraTech's distribution network is very widely spread out in the country with over 5,500 dealers and 30,000 retailers. UltraTech enjoys a leadership position in all of the markets that it serves. Mr. Birla took great pride in the UltraTech team, who he said "are committed to preserving the brand's premium and its market share". The Company has enlisted the support of all of its business associates. This includes dealers, stockists, retailers, builders and engineers among others.

"Our thrust is on enhancing our markets through augmenting our capacities and bringing in higher volumes, adding 2.5 million tonnes largely through debottlenecking. We have plans to maximise operational efficiencies and to sweat the assets. To do so, we have earmarked an immediate investment of Rs. 200 crore for the current financial year. We wish to grow aggressively," stated Mr. Birla.

Mr. Birla added that cement was clearly a focus area for the Group and that the UltraTech acquisition signalled its commitment to take this business even further. UltraTech's plants and markets complement those of Grasim. There is no conflict of interest here, he confirmed.

Between UltraTech and Grasim, the Aditya Birla Group's cement capacity is in excess of 31 million tpa, of which 17 million tpa capacity comes from UltraTech. This makes the Aditya Birla Group the eighth largest cement player in the world.

The Group now has 11 composite plants, seven split grinding units, four bulk terminals (inclusive of one in Sri Lanka), and eight ready mix concrete plants. This accords the Group a strong national presence in the cement sector, with a leadership position in several states.

"We at UltraTech will leverage synergies and further strengthen our ability to compete in the Indian and the overseas markets. We expect UltraTech to grow faster than the market and to improve market shares. At the same time, developing beachheads overseas through a profitable exports business is a priority for us," remarked Mr. Birla.

In his view, the cement business is a great business to be in. Giving an overview of the sector, Mr. Birla commented that India has enormous potential for growth, given the lower per capita consumption of only 110 kilos against the global average of 260 kilos at present. The per capita consumption of cement in India is perhaps the lowest in South East Asia. In Thailand it is 293 kilos, China — 429 kilos, Malaysia — 529 kilos, and in South Korea — 951 kilos. India thus offers a tremendous growth opportunity given its lower per capita consumption.

The rise in per capita consumption would be fuelled by the strong growth in the housing sector and the government's thrust on infrastructure development. This will propel a robust volume growth.

Said Mr. Birla,"I believe that UltraTech is uniquely positioned to capitalise on these developments, given its unique brand values and customer orientation. I see a great future ahead."