In one corner of Bhikaji Cama Place on New Delhi’s Ring Road stands the Hyatt Regency. In the early 1980s, around the time of the Asian Games, this place was earmarked for developing into a new commercial hub in the capital. Till the late 80s, only two large multi-storeyed buildings came up — one was the Hyatt itself and the other was a little known PSU called Engineers India (EIL).
Cynics were quick to ask: why does a PSU engineering consultancy company need such a big office? Where do they get the money to build such posh offices in one of the most prime locations in the capital? After all, even PSUs like IOC and NTPC did not own such huge office premises. The cynics would have been silenced had they known about EIL’s highly attractive performance as one of the country’s fastest growing listed companies. The PSU gem is now sitting on cash reserves of over Rs.2,100 crore. Its turnover has galloped by 37% and its profit after tax by 33% consecutively for the past five years.
EIL is especially interesting because, unlike some of the companies in its neighbourhood (GAIL, Mahindra & Mahindra, Jindals), it has no capital or fixed assets (like a manufacturing unit), nor does it have a stake in any company or project, although that looks set to change. After nearly five decades of existence, “we want to invest around Rs.1,000 crore in projects this year,” says AK Purwaha, chairman and managing director, Engineers India.
What was the need for a specialised engineering consultancy company for the hydrocarbon and petrochemical sectors? After all, other sectors also needed such firms but did not have them. “The growth of organisations more often than not depends on the vision of the individual behind the organisation,” says DV Kapur, first chairman of NTPC and currently member of RIL’s board. “EIL was created with the vision that there was a very high potential for the hydrocarbon sector in the country.”
Back in 1965, MS Pathak, then chairman of EIL, started the PSU in collaboration with the US-based Bechtel, already an established player in the field. The MIT-educated Pathak had