ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel maker, officially set foot in India for the second time and in a much bigger way. It closed a Rs 42,000 crore deal with the lenders of Essar Steel along with Nippon Steel on Monday.
In a statement, ArcelorMittal said it had established a joint venture with Nippon Steel Corporation called ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India (AM/NS India), which will own and operate ESIL.
ArcelorMittal holds 60 per cent of AM/NS India; the rest is with Nippon Steel.
ArcelorMittal announced that Aditya Mittal, president and CFO of ArcelorMittal, had been appointed chairman of AM/NS India and Dilip Oommen, the CEO.
Mittal's appointment, however, didn't come as a surprise for industry players. He had played a key role in the acquisition of Essar and was even spotted during some of the court hearings. Oommen was the current managing director of Essar Steel.
The Mittals and Nippon officials were expected to visit the plant at Hazira on Tuesday to take operational control.
The closing of the transaction is a huge leg-up for the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) even though it was achieved after 865 days with financial creditors realising more than 90 per cent of their admitted claims.
The total admitted claims of financial creditors was Rs 49,473 crore of which State Bank of India (SBI) had the largest exposure at Rs 13,226 crore.
SBI, chairman, Rajnish Kumar, said at an event in New Delhi, "One of the most important, observed and commented case (Essar Steel) has been resolved today. It will boost the bank's profitability in the third quarter and will be a huge positive for the economy."
For the Hazira plant as much as for the Mittals, the resolution signals the start of a new chapter.
Commenting, Lakshmi Mittal, chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal, said, “The acquisition of Essar Steel is an important strategic step for ArcelorMittal. India has long been identified as an attractive market for our company and we have been looking at suitable opportunities to build a meaningful production presence in the country for over a decade."
"Both India and Essar’s appeal are enduring. Essar has a sizeable, profitable, well-located operations and the long-term growth potential for the Indian economy and therefore Indian steel demand are well known," he added.
Lakshmi Mittal also said that the combined strengths of Nippon would bring many new opportunities which would allow it to make a positive contribution to India's target to grow steelmaking capacity to 300 million tonnes per annum by 2030 and for its manufacturing sector more broadly.
The acquisition makes AM/NS India the fourth largest steel producer in India and the largest steel company in western India. Its current level of annualised crude steel production is 7.5 million tonnes. Additionally, it also has iron ore pellet facilities in the east of India, with a current annual capacity of 14 million tonnes per annum.
Going forward, there are plans of ramping up capacity to 8.5 million tonnes over the medium-term; the long-term aspiration is to increase finished steel shipments to between 12 and 15 million tonnes. The resolution plan for Essar had indicated a capital expenditure plan of Rs 18,697 crore to be implemented in two stages over six years.
Aditya Mittal, President and CFO of ArcelorMittal, said, "This acquisition gives us the opportunity to contribute to India’s expansion in infrastructure and urbanization in the coming decades."
"To do this, we have in place a targeted capital expenditure plan designed to build on our combined management strength, operational expertise, commitment to safe, sustainable steelmaking and industry leading research and development," he added.
Eiji Hashimoto, Representative Director and President of Nippon Steel, said, Nippon Steel and ArcelorMittal would bring out AM/NS India’s potential by providing it with their respective business experience and world-leading advanced technologies, so as to promptly implement the resolution plan and realise its further business expansion.
Big boost for IBC
Essar was one of the 12 big-ticket cases mandated for resolution by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) under the IBC.
With its completion, there are now about six resolutions from the RBI's first list of non-performing assets (NPAs) with recoveries of 56.86 per cent of the admitted claims for financial creditors against an average of 42 per cent.
Lakshmi Mittal said the transaction demonstrates how India benefits from the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, a genuinely progressive reform whose positive impact would be felt widely across the Indian economy.
SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar pointed out that the Essar case had settled almost every issue in the IBC process.
There were several rounds of litigation in the case that tested many of the IBC clauses over the past two years.
Kumar, however, said that there was still hesitation from both borrowers and lenders’ end to take early advantage of the IBC process.
“An early resolution is a good way to preserve the economic value of the enterprise. It’s important to resolve early,” Kumar said. He further said that there should be no stigma attached to the bankruptcy process.
“Nowhere in the world do we have this stigma. It’s a natural process that some businesses will survive and some will fail. It’s ultimately the survival of the fittest,” Kumar explained. However, Kumar felt that the IBC was not suitable for the resolution of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
“It is more for the bigger corporates. MSMEs should have a rehabilitation. We are not in favour to take them to the NCLT because it will burden the system unnecessarily," Kumar said.