September 2013
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India’s Cement King Kumar Birla Inks $600 Million Deal To Buy Rival Unit

Billionaire Kumar Birlacemented his position as India’s cement king by inking a deal Wednesday to buy a unit from rival Jaypee Group for $600 million. The acquisition by Birla’s listed company UltraTech Cement, the country’s largest cement producer, will increase its annual capacity to 59 million tons and boost its presence in the western state of Gujarat where the Jaypee unit is located.
The deal, which has been in the works for over a year and has undergone a few twists and turns, includes a unit with an annual capacity of 4.8 million tons, a captive power plant and rich limestone reserves. The transaction involves no immediate cash payment as UltraTech will assume the cement firm’s debt of $575 million and issue shares for the balance $25 million.
The sale by Jaypee which is owned by the Gaur family whose patriarch Jaiprakash Gaur features among India’s richest, is at a valuation of $125 per ton which is a bit of a bargain for Birla when compared to recent deals in the cement sector. It is estimated to reduce the the Jaypee group’s debt of $3.6 billion by 15% according to its chairman Manoj Gaur. (Recently, Jaypee announced plans to sell part of its hydro power assets as well.)
Birla who also has an additional expansion of 10 million tons in the pipeline, is striving to extend his lead over multinationals like Holcim which have established a significant presence in the Indian market. He was long considered the frontrunner to acquire the unit when Jaypee put it up for sale last year as part of efforts to reduce its debt load. But negotiations between the billionaire and the Gaur family unraveled last year when the two disagreed on valuation. After Birla backed out, the Gaurs began talks with Irish firm CRH CRH +1.93% but that too went nowhere and in October 2012 CRH announced that it had terminated the negotiations.
Birla’s latest acquisition comes smack in the middle of what is turning out to be a ‘feel better’ week for India on the economic front. The free falling stock market and rupee have both been recovering after economist Raghuram Rajan took charge as the governor of the Reserve Bank of India last week. It isn’t as yet clear though whether the ‘Raghu Effect’ is a temporary sunburst before the clouds gather again.
Source: Forbes

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