19 February 2019: Sajjan Jindal’s JSW is believed to be in talks with Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Ltd to mount a late bid for Essar Steel.
If the two business groups, one a leader in steel and the other in non-ferrous metal, come together to make a fresh dash, the offer is likely to be tabled before the lenders by the end of the month.
The committee of creditors of bankrupt Essar Steel had chosen ArcelorMittal as the highest bidder and submitted the Rs 42,000-crore plan of the world’s largest steel maker before the National Company Law Tribunal, Ahmedabad, for approval.
Vedanta, which made a low-ball offer of Rs 35,000 crore for the 8-million-tonne plant at Hazira, may now raise the bid to Rs 45,000-48,000 crore, with the backing of the Jindals.
Sources said the top executives of JSW and Vedanta met in London earlier this month to explore an alliance.
JSW did not respond to a request for comment. Vedanta said it would not comment on “market speculation”.
If Vedanta and JSW mount a bid, it will be another instance of a late offer, especially in large insolvency cases.
In the Binani Cement insolvency case, UltraTech had topped rival Dalmia Bharat’s plan days before the committee of creditors approved it. The CoC ignored UltraTech’s plan and submitted the Dalmia offer for approval.
However, after many twists and turns, UltraTech bagged Binani, upholding the spirit of value maximisation of the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code.
In Bhushan Power & Steel Ltd, the CoC approved the plan of Tata Steel twice but finally a late and higher bid of JSW was chosen following the tribunal’s diktat. Earlier this month, a letter of intent was issued to JSW for Bhushan.
Once submitted, it will be the second attempt for both JSW and Vedanta for Essar Steel. After showing interest initially, JSW had refrained from bidding, leaving the Mittals, Vedanta and Numetal, a consortium stitched together by Essar’s promoter Ruia and Russia’s VTB, in the fray.
Sniffing an opportunity later, JSW piggybacked a step-down of Numetal subsidiary, which was created to execute the resolution plan, by picking up a 26 per cent. However, Numetal’s plan was put on the backburner, and JSW’s, too, when the Supreme Court asked it to clear the loan of all Ruia companies.
It now appears that Vedanta will submit a higher offer, as it is not saddled with any legal issue and JSW will piggyback a special purpose vehicle which will own and manage the asset. ArcelorMittal had also announced plans to team up with Japan’s Nippon Steel to own and manage the asset.
Where does Ruia’s fit in the late manoeuvres of JSW and Vedanta? Watch out for an answer in a couple of years, highly placed sources said.