Bangladesh’s Nitol-Niloy Group Knits Bengal Plan

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The Nitol-Niloy group of Bangladesh is keen to invest in the textile sector in India and Bengal is on its radar. The diversified group, which has business interests in automobile and engineering, is planning a spinning mill project to convert cotton, sourced in India, to yarn for consumption in Bangladesh. The group is eyeing a joint venture and the investment in the project could be to the tune of Rs 300 crore.

"We are exploring ways in which Indian cotton can be converted to yarn and then sent to Bangladesh for consumption by its large garment industry," said Abdul Matlub Ahmad, chairman of the Nitol-Niloy group, on the sidelines of a manufacturing summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry. The group has been to Gujarat, which is expanding in textiles, but is interested in a factory in Bengal, he added.

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"For us, Calcutta is closer to home and that is why we are interested in setting up a factory in the state," Ahmad said. The group is also eyeing projects in the specialised garments segment with retail chains across the country. Ahmad said the state government has already shown plots of land during the group's last visit to Bengal. Nitol-Niloy is now preparing the blueprint for the project.

At the same time, Ahmad is eyeing investments from Indian companies in a special economic zone being developed by the group near Dhaka. "We are coming up with an SEZ project in Kishoreganj district, which is about 85 km from Dhaka, with a special focus on Indian investors. The focus is on automobile assembly, ancillary industries as well as engineering equipment. Companies from India and Japan are already in touch," said Ahmad. The SEZ will have around 80-100 plots spread across an area of 103 acres. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government had earlier expressed its interest in offering Indian industry land in its SEZs. Dhaka's offer is part of its two-pronged strategy on investments vis-a-vis India. The SEZs will help to draw investments which could help Bangladesh offset its over US$ 5-billion imbalance in trade.

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At the same time, Bangladesh is looking to invest in India's US$ 2.3 trillion market from a US$ 7 billion fund for overseas investment to be created out of its foreign exchange reserves of US$ 36 billion. Among Bangladesh investors, Bashundhara Group has plans to invest in paper-based industry, while the Pran group, an FMCG leader in Bangladesh, has already started selling its products in eastern India.

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Indian industry has invested around US$ 3 billion in Bangladesh. Big players like Tata Motors, Hero MotoCorp, Sun Pharma, Airtel and Aditya Birla Cement have invested.    

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