(This was originally posted in The Times Of India by Chethan Kumar)
From having had to borrow to even pay salaries in 2018-19, defence PSU HAL’s cash position is back in the black with most dues from the three defence services — the PSU’s mainstay customers — having been cleared.
As on date, HAL has Rs 7,135 crore as cash holding compared to a negative of Rs 5,477 on March 31, 2020, and a negative of Rs 4,051 crore on March 31, 2019. When HAL first borrowed to pay salaries in the last quarter of 2018-19, the PSU had said its cash in hand was in the negative for the first in two to three decades and that it had borrowed Rs 1,000 crore. TOI was the first to report about HAL’s cash problems.
“We had a problem with the cash balance mainly because collections were dipping from September 2017 given that the defence forces had other commitments. This year, we’ve managed to collect almost all our dues. We’ve collected Rs 34,475 crore in 2020-21, while the same was Rs 18,000 crore in 2019-20 and Rs 10,800 crore in 2018-19,”R Madhavan, chairman, HAL told TOI.
Further, HAL, whose order book is now worth around Rs 80,000 crore, is expecting more orders this year, and is confident of the same touching Rs 1-lakh-crore in the next two years.
“Immediate orders visible are for 15 LCH (light combat helicopter) and 12 LUH (light utility helicopter) and the 12 Su-30 fighters,” Madhavan said. He estimated that the LCH order would be worth around Rs 3,000 crore while the LUH orders are pegged in the range of Rs 1,500 crore to Rs 2,000 crore given that the first batch would only be limited to series production helicopters.
So far HAL has produced 272 Su-30 aircraft at its Nashik facility and the proposed orders for 12 more — estimated to be worth more than Rs 10,700 crore going by publicly available information — will also happen there.
“After initial orders of the two helicopters , we are expecting orders for 180+ LUH and 140+ LCH. Orders for two fighter aircraft engines are also visible: The RD33 for the MiG-29 fighters and AL-31FP for Su-30. We’re expecting around 65-70 numbers of each,” he said.
He said that the AL-31FP is worth around Rs 70 crore to Rs 75 crore a piece. That means at least Rs 4,900 crore. “I’ll have to check for the exact cost of the RD33, but it should be in the same range,” Madhavan said.
Aside from this, he said that the company is looking at exports worth Rs 200 crore to Rs 400 crore, which will include everything from spares to aircraft. “We have two inquiries from Mauritius and Maldives for the Dornier-228 aircraft,” he said.
And, as reported by TOI earlier, HAL has announced a revenue in excess of Rs 22,700 crore (provisional and unaudited) for the year ended on March 31, 2021, compared to Rs 21,438 crore in the previous fiscal.