Aerospace manufacturing company Aequs is opening up its 250-acre special economic zone (SEZ) for IT and IT-enabled companies. The SEZ, located at Hattaragi, 35 km from Belagavi, has so far focused on aerospace component manufacturing. Quest Global, the engineering services company founded by Aequs founder Aravind Melligeri and his friend Ajit Prabhu, has already established a presence in the SEZ. “We are keeping the option open to other IT companies also to set up their units. There is an established infrastructure in the campus. IT units will get facilities like common cafeteria, common healthcare facilities, bus facility between Belagavi and the SEZ,” Aequs managing director for India, Rajeev Kaul.
Kaul said most IT players are forced to go to Bengaluru. Aequs wants to create an ecosystem for IT in the north Karnataka region. Kaul said there are many medium-scale IT players in the region but they are not getting good infrastructure.
Kaul, who played a significant role in setting up the precision engineering SEZ, said a lot of skilled human force is available in the region. Most now go to Bengaluru given the lack of options in the region. “Our attempt is to stop migration of skilled force, which is also a goal of our chairman and CEO Aravind Melligeri,” he said.
The move has been appreciated by IT players of Belagavi and surrounding areas. Manoj Talreja, president of Belgaum IT Association, said it would be fantastic if Aequs is ready to give opportunity to set up software and hardware units in its campus.
Karnataka Small Scale Industries Development Corporation (KSSIDC) had developed an IT Park at Desur,14 km from Belagavi city, in 2010,but there are no takers for those sites due to lack of infrastructure and connectivity. When it comes to Aequs SEZ, it has been located on Pune-Bengaluru National Highway-4 and one could reach to the spot hardly in 20-25 minutes drive.
Firm will invest $22 million in FY18
Bengaluru: Aequs will make a capital investment of $22 million this fiscal year, the company’s founder Aravind Melligeri said. The money will go mostly into buying more machines for aerospace component manufacturing. A total of about$100 million of investment has already gone into developing its Belagavi SEZ. Melligeri has diluted his stake in engineering services company Quest Global, which he co-founded with friend Ajit Prabhu, to raise money for Aequs. Quest is believed to be valued at close to $1 billion. Aequs has been evolving into an almost complete ecosystem for aerospace component manufacturing. The facility does forging, machining, surface treatment and assembly. It also now hosts materials suppliers – distributors of aluminium, steel, and titanium, distributors of fasteners, cutting tools. This ensures in-time supplies to the other facilities.
The SEZ even has training facilities. The SEZ now has about 21 operating units, occupying 600,000 sqft. Five years ago, the space occupied was a tenth of this. Revenue has grown from $10 million five years ago, to about $100 million now.
Melligeri said the India operations are profitable on a net basis, but declined to provide figures. On a global basis, including the French company SiRA it acquired in 2016, the group expects to be profitable this year. Aequs has exited the automotive space, with the objective of focusing on aerospace. “We see an opportunity to be a leader in aerospace,” Melligeri said. Aequs’ biggest customers are Safran, UTC Aerospace Systems and Airbus. It supplies products like landing gear components, fuselage components, pylon components, actuators, and engine components. The over wing door for all A321neos are being done by Aequs. “Customers are very clear they want to do more out of India,” Melligeri said.