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Indian-origin steel tycoon Sanjeev Gupta on US acquisition spree

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LONDON: Britain's Indian-origin steel tycoon Sanjeev Gupta has made a bid to acquire all the assets of a Minnesota iron ore firm, days after he announced plans to take over ArcelorMittal's steelworks in the US.

GFG Alliance, which includes Gupta's global industrial and metals group Liberty House as well as his family's resources and energy group SIMEC, said the move to acquire Mesabi Metallics Company LLC, formerly known as Essar Steel Minnesota LLC and ESML Holding Inc, was part of its plans to step up its North American expansion programme.

The acquisition will cover a seven million tonnes-a-year iron ore pellet plant at Nashwauk Minnesota with an expansion potential to 14 million tonnes a year, plus magnetite resources estimated at 1.968 billion tonnes, with reserves of 1.679 billion tonnes, and hematite mineral resources estimated to be around 352 million tonnes.

The bid is being made as a consortium alongside ERP Iron Ore (ERPI) and institutional investors working together as the Chippewa Capital Partners.

"We are very pleased to team up with our partners in the Chippewa Capital Partners consortium to put forward this exciting proposal. We see this as a time of renewed opportunity for growth of American industry, and we have the breadth and depth of skill and experience to capitalise on that opportunity," said Gupta, executive chairman of GFG Alliance.

He said the bid to acquire Mesabi Metallics fits with the GFG strategy to develop end-to-end integrated and sustainable businesses in North America, encompassing mining and energy production through to recycling, steel making and engineering, underpinned by the group's financial services operation.

Jay Hambro, GFG's Chief Investment Officer and CEO of SIMEC Mining, said, "With current volatility in the iron ore price, it is important to focus on a low cost operation and on value-added products that have a long-term demand base.

"The Mesabi assets need a well-considered built-out programme under the leadership of a group investing with a view to long-term ownership."

The move follows last week's announcement that Liberty House has reached an agreement with NRI steel major Lakshmi N Mittal's ArcelorMittal to buy the Georgetown steelworks in South Carolina with its electric arc furnace and rod mill.

The GFG Alliance is also expanding in Australia where Liberty and SIMEC are at an advanced stage in the process to secure major mining, recycling and steel assets.

GFG's international operations include: recycling, steelmaking and downstream products, power generation, natural resources, and trading business with 2017 revenues in excess of USD 9 billion.

Liberty is the largest producer of steel and downstream engineered steel products in the UK with its products sold in over 50 countries.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

JSW Steel on verge of acquiring Stemcor's India assets

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Sajjan Jindal led JSW Steel is understood to be in the final lap of negotiations to buy out London-based Steel Marketing Corporation's (Stemcor) India assets. If the deal fructifies, it would mean the culmination of efforts by the British steel trading company to sell off its assets in India after years of failed attempts.

The assets are held by Stemcor India, the Indian arm of UK-based and Oppenheimer family controlled Stemcor Holdings Ltd.

“JSW Steel is in very advanced stage of talks for takeover of Stemcor's assets. This looks a very strategic acquisition from the company's perspective since the pellet plant is located in a very favourable location and also given JSW's interest to set up a 10 million tonne steel mill in Odisha”, said a source close to the development.

He said, Tata Steel was also in the hunt for Stemcor's assets but opted out after its price offer was found to be unattractive for the promoters. A Tata Steel source, however, has denied it.

Both JSW Group and Stemcor declined a comment on the prospective deal. An e-mail questionnaire sent to both remained unanswered.

Though Stemcor's assets have invited the best of bidding interest- players like Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL), Tata Steel, Essar Steel, Aditya Birla owned Essel Mining & Industries Ltd and maharatna PSU Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) have all vied for takeover in the past, the deal could not be sealed. Even JSW Steel was also in the race earlier for takeover of the Stemcor owned facilities. One of the key reasons for the Stemcor deal not going through can be the lack of an attractive valuation price by the bidders, said an analyst choosing to be unnamed.

Stemcor operates in India through Brahmani River Pellets Ltd (BRPL). This company owns a four million tonne pellet plant at Kalinganagar industrial complex in Odisha's Jajpur district close to a cluster of steel plants. It also runs an iron ore beneficiation unit of equal capacity in Keonjhar district. Iron ore mines are held by Aryan Mining & Trading Corporation Ltd (AMTC) where Stemcor holds a majority stake. And, AMTC hods 100 per cent stake in BRPL. It was the mining asset that pulled the leading steel players to the acquisition race.

The current valuation of the assets are not known but last year, an industry estimate had pegged the figure at about $1 billion.

BRPL produces iron ore pellets from iron ore concentrates after beneficiating low grade iron ore fines. The low grade fines with Fe less than 56-57 per cent are beneficiated at beneficiation plant through grinding, gravity & magnetic separation process to produce high grade iron ore concentrates with 63-64 per cent Fe. This high grade iron ore concentrates in form of slurry is transported to pellet plant through an underground slurry pipeline.

Nirma to buy Lafarge India assets from LafargeHolcim for $1.4 billion

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Nirma Ltd. has agreed to acquire Lafarge India’s cement assets for about $1.4 billion (Rs.9,400 crore), outbidding Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Cement and Piramal Enterprises, as Indian companies vie to add capacity for the building material to tap growing demand from the infrastructure sector.

LafargeHolcim, the Swiss building materials behemoth created out of the 2015 Lafarge-Holcim merger, will sell its Lafarge India business including three plants and two grinding units with a total capacity of about 11 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) to Nirma, subject to approval by the Competition Commission of India (CCI), the Zurich-based company said in a statement.

Nirma, the Ahmedabad-based detergents and chemicals maker, currently operates a 2 MTPA cement unit. The additional capacity will help it benefit from an expected surge in infrastructure construction as India aims to boost spending on the key sector to about 8.1 per cent of GDP by 2021-22, according to an IMF Working Paper. Nirma, which will fund the acquisition through an equal mix of equity and debt, expects the acquisition to be “transformational” for its cement business, Managing Director Hiren Patel said.

“With a strong platform like Lafarge’s India business, we plan to take the cement business to the next level,” Mr. Patel said. LafargeHolcim will use the divestment proceeds to pare debt, it said. The agreement, part of the cement major’s 3.5 billion Swiss franc divestment plan, is a key requirement for the company to win approval from India’s competition regulator for the worldwide merger announced last year. “We are confident that we will meet our target by the end of this year,” said Eric Olsen, CEO, LafargeHolcim. “With the proposed buyer we have found the right partner who will be able to develop the business further in the interest of all our stakeholders,” Mr. Olsen said.

Also read: Five Companies Shortlisted for Lafarge's 11 Million Tonne Cement Plants

LafargeHolcim will continue to operate in India through ACC Ltd. and Ambuja Cements Ltd. with a combined capacity of more than 60 million tonnes and a nationwide distribution network, making it the second-largest cement player in the country. Kumar Mangalam Birla-led UltraTech Cement is the market leader.

Source: The Hindu

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