IKF Technologies - Story Behind Scenes

A group of individuals bought a listed company in 2004 and turned it around. The software company they bought, has now expanded into telecom and even into the emerging bio-fuels business. Let's see if we should buy stocks of this company.

IKF Technologies is today a Rs 180-crore company and growing. In 2004-05, when the company was taken over by Pradeep Dutta and Sunil Kumar Goel, it had a share capital base of Rs 10 crore. Over the last two years, the company has invested in putting together infrastructure and technology, which has paid off. It grew its web development, software and BPO businesses internationally, to Australia and the UK.

In 2006, it set up a 31-seat BPO for Tata Teleservices. “The initial couple of years went into restructuring and settling down in the core business,” says Pankaj Garg, director at IKF Technologies, which counts domestic telcos and banks among its clients. Though the promoters realise that they are late entrants in BPO outsourcing, they are looking at new markets.

IKF has now set up offices in Germany, Brazil, Dubai and Russia, and is hoping to see growth from these markets over the next two years. The idea of getting into telecom was there since 2006 but “since it was difficult to get a licence at that point in time, it never materialised”, says Garg. But it finally got a Category ‘A’ licence for Internet Service Provider (ISP) by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in January. Since then, it has been busy setting up its network. “We have already spent Rs 4-5 crore, and another Rs 8-9 crore will be spent in the future on developing the network,” informs Garg. As an initial foray in telecom, the company decided to get into VoIP services, a segment, which is not too crowded. That’s how IKF Tel came into being. The company is almost on the verge of launching its VoIP services for the retail market, having already launched the same for enterprise customers.

IKF has earmarked $2-3 million for its telecom business, of which, says Garg, $1 million has already been spent over the last one year. IKF expects revenues of Rs 100 crore from its telecom business in the next three years, growing both organically and inorganically. Taking its quest for emerging technologies forward, IKF is into bio-fuels too. “The chairman of the company, Dr RP Singh, who is a former scientist at the Indian Agriculture Research Institute, led us into this field,” says Vishal Rawat, president bio-diesel at IKF Green Fuel. IKF Green Fuel is also planning to get into ethanol, solar and wind energy in the near future. For bio-diesel, though, it has signed an MoU with the government of Madhya Pradesh through which it is seeking 200 hectares of wasteland for jatropha cultivation and will also be setting up an oil extraction plant with an investment of Rs 30 crore.

It also engages in contract farming on private wasteland. “We have one refinery already at Udaipur, which can produce 3,000 litres a day but at the moment, it is being used for trial runs. We expect commercial production to start by 2010-11,” says Rawat. Commercial bio-diesel production would need a steady flow of jatropha seeds. To this effect, IKF has 10,000 hectares of jatropha under cultivation, both on leased and owned land. “By 2008-end, we hope to reach the 30,000-40,000 hectares mark,” says Rawat. Meanwhile, research is on for better seeds with agricultural universities and other institutions.

The company has been granted permission by the government of India for a GDR issue to raise Rs 500 crore. About Rs 200 crore are already been allocated for IKF Green Fuel, indicating the company’s commitment to the growing sector. It is also exploring JVs in Brazil and South Africa for plantation and extraction there. “We want to be the leader in the bio-fuels market by 2015,” says Rawat.

IKF Tech plans to grow jatropha in Africa-------
IKF Technologies, the country's first corporate jatropha refiner, has formally approached African Governments — Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa — for permission to cultivate the plant. Armed with detailed project reports, the company has also applied for an area of 50,000 acres of wasteland in each of these countries for organised jatropha farming. Mr Mukesh Kumar Goel, a director of the company, told Business Line that official responses, however, were awaited. According to the company's estimates, the cost of acquiring the land (total 1.5 lakh acres), nursing the plants till the first fruition after 18 months, and setting up crushing facilities would be Rs 3,000 crore. In a phased manner If permissions were obtained, the purchases or acquisition of land through lease and taking up the plantation projects would be done in a phased manner over a long period of time. IKF has sought to own the land in Africa, and prefers not go in for contract farming, Mr Goel explained.

In India, it has opted for the contract-farming model in Rajasthan, where its existing refinery is located, in an area of 5,000 hectares. In Meghalaya, however, IKF cultivates on its own land.Its refinery was commissioned in March this year. Currently, it is procuring jatropha seeds from the open market since it began farming the plants in Meghalaya roughly 12 months ago.Though the first flush of seeds takes 18 months, jatropha harvests are available twice a year in the period after maturing. One hectare can accommodate roughly 2,500 plants.

The yield per tree in one harvest, according to thumb rule, is around 3.5 kg and from one kg of seeds, a little over 300 ml of bio-diesel can be had.The company has a one-year renewable technology agreement with Indian Oil Technologies Ltd, a subsidiary of Indian Oil Corporation, for perfecting mixing grade bio-diesel.

Refinery in Gujarat :
It has proposed to set up another refinery in Gujarat with a capacity of 1 lakh tonnes per annum at a cost of Rs 50 crore.

It has also sought permission for contract farming of jatropha in Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.

In Rajasthan, it has a refinery running with a capacity to produce 3,000 litres a day.

CMP: INR 3. It's future prospect is bright. Stock price will definately touch arround INR 200+ in 2012.