Ashok Leyland aims for 10% of sales from defence within 4 yrs

Looking for a bigger play in the defence sector, Hinduja flagship firm Ashok Leyland is in talks for partnerships with global companies to participate in tenders for Indian military supplies as it expects the segment to grab a 10% share of total business within 4 years.

The company, which is expanding product lines and integrating global weapon systems with its mobility platforms as part of a two-pronged strategy, is also looking at global markets similar to India to export its defence products.

"Our aim for the defence segment is to contribute about 10% of the total business in the next three to four years, up from the current 6-7%," Ashok Leyland Chairman Dheeraj Hinduja told PTI in an interview.

In FY2012-13, the company had a posted net sales of Rs 12,203.07 crore. In the April-December period this fiscal, its net sales stood at at Rs 6,714.78 crore.

It has already participated in a tender to supply 6x6 trucks to the Army and is preparing itself for more. "We understand the requirements of the Army well," Hinduja said.

Ashok Leyland has supplied over 70,000 units of its Stallion trucks to the Indian Army, serving in key logistic operations.

With the addition of a 10x10 variant of its Super Stallion, Ashok Leyland now has a range of defence vehicles starting from 4x4 configuration with wide ranging applications from troop carriers to weapons systems such as the multi barrel rocket launcher to electronics warfare systems and bridge launcher, among others.

Besides, the firm is working on tactical vehicles and has already developed a land mine protected vehicle.

It is confident that its long experience in the sector will make it a preferred choice for foreign firms that are looking for local partners to participate in tenders for Indian defence forces.

"We are looking at partnerships with global firms and we are constantly in talks with various firms. These will be for tenders that we would participate," Hinduja said, adding the focus of the partnerships would be to meet tender requirements and not for new defence product development.

Last week, Ashok Leyland signed a partnership agreement with Swedish group SAAB to deliver high mobility vehicles for SAAB's BAMSE Short Range Surface to Air Missile (SRSAM) system to compete for the Indian Army SRSAM air defence programme.

Commenting on the company's global ambition for the defence sector, Hinduja said: "We are looking not only at the Indian market for this sector. We are looking to market our products to other countries, where conditions are similar to India.

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