ALL SHAPES & SIZES

Oman 2018 | INDUSTRY & MINING | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Naushad Anasari, CEO of Jindal Shadeed Iron & Steel, on tackling steel demand in Oman, the firm's unique offerings, and what makes Oman a great place to do business.

Naushad Anasari
BIOGRAPHY
Naushad Anasari became the CEO of Jindal Shadeed Iron & Steel in 2012. He started his career at Tata Steel, Jamshedpur in 1974 and worked there in various capacities for 34 years. He joined JSPL group as Executive Director at its Patratu unit in September 2008. Prior to joining his current firm, he was Executive Director in charge of JSPL, Raigarh as well as Director of JSPL, India. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering from AMU, Aligarh.

Do you have specific niche products and clients that you have to feed separately from the competition?

Business philosophy is what determines the difference between companies. Our main advantages are our plant capacity, production volume, and the integrated nature of our production and production quality model, which no one else can match at a local level because we have the only direct-reduced iron (DRI) plant in Oman with hot DRI directly going into EAF, thus saving substantial energy. There are companies in the UAE operating at a similar level to us but no one else has an iron-making facility in Oman. Most other companies use scrap and thus the quality of steel produced is noticeably inferior. People who can distinguish between top and low quality understand the value of our products, which puts us in a position to command a premium above our competitors. We have tremendous respect for other companies in the industry; however, we know our strengths. For example, because of our integrated system of plant operations, our operating costs are much lower. Our processes are designed in such a way that our energy needs are minimal, thus enabling us to hot charge the iron from the DRI unit to the electric furnace directly while saving energy. Our relative energy costs and CO2 footprint is far lower compared to those of our competitors and we can supply better material in amounts that allow us to meet the majority of output demand.

How have economic conditions across the region affected demand?

Demand in Oman has fallen because a large portion of construction activity, which was our main target, was fueled by the oil and gas industry. The same scenario on a much larger scale is observed in Saudi Arabia, where demand has dropped substantially, reducing prices that were once the highest in the region. The UAE, on the other hand, has not experienced such radical change as the Emirates are not as dependent on oil and gas as other Gulf states. Overall, however, we have no difficulty in finding demand for our products even if there are increasingly noticeable differences across the region.

Do you plan on expanding your portfolio to any niche market demands?

We are always expanding as any business needs to be prepared for various eventualities. If, for example, the overall rebar demand drops, we face the question of whether we are in a position to sustain ourselves. We have a multi-product strategy because we want that answer to always be affirmative. Jindal Sadeed Iron & Steel has the ability to produce the best steel because no one else in the GCC has vacuum degassing for long products. That vacuum degassing gives us enormous strength to produce whatever quality of steel we want to produce and therefore that puts us in a position to produce the right kind of steel to export to various parts of the world.

What have been the major supply milestones for you in Oman?

Our strategy focuses on supporting our main distributors so they are the ones that compete for the project and we can supply to their projects directly. We work with a large number of distributors in Oman, supplying projects like the Mall of Oman. Our distributors are our partners, and we support them to make sure they are highly competitive and productive.

Why did you choose to manufacture in Oman?

The main factor affecting that choice is the high quality of life our employees can have in Oman. When we first came to the country in 2010, gas was readily available at an affordable cost and the average GDP growth was 5-6% at the time. There was high demand and productivity in the construction sector and, even though the country is facing some difficulties, that demand is still there. There are also excellent distribution logistics in place that enhance our ability to import materials and export our products. Also, we received great support from the government from the very beginning—we work closely with the Minister of Commerce and Industry and the Minister of Oil and Gas. It is a pleasure to conduct business in Oman.