GoI to shut British-era firm, Biecco Lawrie

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NEW DELHI: The government of India on Wednesday decided to shut down Biecco Lawrie Ltd after oil companies refused to buy the perpetually sick British-era firm.
The decision by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) followed the oil ministry saying there is no possibility of its revival.
The CCEA, chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “approved the proposal for closure of the Biecco Lawrie Ltd (BLL) including giving Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS)/Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) to the employees of the company”, an official statement said.
The idling assets of BLL will be subsequently put into productive use after meeting all the liabilities in accordance with the extant guidelines of the government.
Biecco Lawrie, located in Kolkata, was established in 1919 as British India Electric Construction Co. It started as a tea garden machine manufacturer and made shell cases, food containers, camouflage sets for military during World War II. In 1932, it produced low priced fans for masses.
The company currently has a lube oil blending plant with annual capacity of 12,000 kilolitres. It makes switchgears as well as undertakes small power distribution projects, markets kerosene, paraffin wax, bitumen and furnace oil.
“Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has taken various steps for revival of the company from time to time. However, the company could not be revived and further, there appeared no possibility of revival of the company considering the competitive business environment as well as huge capital requirement.
“Continued loss has made further operations of the company not only unviable but also resulted in substantial distress to officials and staff due to uncertain future,” it said. It has over a decade accumulated Rs 153.95 crore loss, with negative net worth.
As much as 67.33 per cent stake of the company is held by Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB) and 32.33 per cent is with government. The remaining 0.44 per cent shares are held by others.
“The net worth of the company was a negative Rs 78.88 crore at the end of the FY 2017-18,” the statement said.