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India formally launches seven new defence firms

The Indian government has formally launched seven companies to replace the 220-year-old Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) in New Delhi declared the new firms operational at an event chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 October.

The seven companies will be expected to enhance India's “autonomy and efficiency and unleash new growth potential and innovation”, said Modi.

The new firms “will play a major role” in supporting the MoD's import substitution efforts, he said. Another target will be defence exports, he added.

The MoD confirmed at the event that the companies start operations with an order book valued at more than INR650 billion (USD8.6 billion). They have a combined authorised share capital of INR912 billion and net assets of INR793 billion.

The firms will have management control over their respective operations and will be expected to pursue profits. In time, it is possible that they will be listed on Indian stock exchanges. The companies will also report into a new Directorate of Ordnance (Co-ordination and Services) that was inaugurated by the MoD's Department of Defence Production in early October.

The new companies comprise: Munitions India Limited (MIL); Armoured Vehicles Nigam Limited (AVANI); Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited (AWE India); Troop Comforts Limited (TCL); Yantra India Limited (YIL); India Optel Limited (IOL); and Gliders India Limited (GIL).

The restructure of the OFB was announced in June 2021 after having been considered by the MoD for more than a decade.

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