Advanced Chemical Industries (ACI) Ltd has decided to form a subsidiary company to enter maritime and riverine businesses.
The publicly listed conglomerate on Thursday informed, after a board meeting, that the new subsidiary company, ACI Marine and Riverine Technologies Ltd, will get an initial paid-up capital of Tk10 crore.
The ACI Ltd will provide 77 percent of the money.
"With our experience in automobile and various specialised machinery businesses, it is a good time to expand into a new territory, and our board has decided to go ahead with it," said Dr FH Ansarey, executive director at the ACI.
Dr Ansarey has been selected as the managing director of the new subsidiary.
He is also leading many other businesses of the group, including agricultural businesses, automobiles, chemical and plastic.
"Nothing is final yet, but our initial plan includes dredging, shipping, inland water transportation and technological services for maritime and riverine activities," he told The Business Standard.
Earlier in June this year, the ACI Ltd, in a filing, informed shareholders about their fourth joint venture project with a Danish juice manufacturer, CO-RO, where the ACI will invest Tk49.9 crore in two years to hold 49.9 percent shares of the company named ACI CO-RO Bangladesh Ltd.
The CO-RO has its presence in juice markets of 80 countries worldwide and is the leading company in the sector in many Asian countries.
With around Tk50 crore of paid-up capital, the ACI Ltd is growing fast with the help of its continuous expansions through 14 subsidiaries and the parent company's pharmaceutical units.
In the financial year ended on June 30, 2018, the company earned revenues of over Tk5,500 crore and maintained a net profit after tax that surpassed its paid-up capital.
However, the debt-dependent expansion model is taking a toll on shareholders in terms of net profit after tax, and some of them are in disagreement with the board over its decision to keep capital tight and borrow more.
As the interest rates in Bangladesh recently increased, the company has been forced to post a consolidated loss after servicing debts and deducting taxes payable.
Until March 31, according to the third quarter financial report, the ACI Ltd posted revenue of over Tk4,600 crore, which is projected to result in an annual revenue of over Tk6,000 crore.
But the company lost around Tk29 crore, in the first nine months of the 2018-19 fiscal. Shareholders are waiting for annual audited financial results that are expected to come out within several weeks.
The ACI Ltd has been paying over 100 percent cash dividend for the last three years, along with some stock dividend not exceeding 10 percent.
Shares of the ACI Ltd at the Dhaka Stock Exchange are trading at around 25 percent premium over the current net asset value of Tk206 per share.
The ACI Ltd, as a legacy of British multinational Imperial Chemical Industries, came under the control of local entrepreneurs in 1992 following a divestment. It was renamed as the ACI Ltd from the ICI Bangladesh Ltd.
Now the conglomerate produces over 5,000 products with the help of a workforce of around 10,000 people.
The company listed with the stock market in 1976.