Vedanta and JSW Steel are in talks to make a joint bid for Essar Steel in a last attempt to keep ArcelorMittal away. A bid together, or one from either company, could be made next week, said sources aware of the development.
Vedanta said they did not comment on market speculation, while JSW Steel did not make a statement. The bid could be in the range of Rs 45,000-48,000 crore, and would be made on the grounds of value maximisation. Arcelor’s bid is for Rs 42,000 crore.
Vedanta had submitted an expression of interest for Essar. JSW Steel had not, and therefore, had to partner Numetal as a step-down subsidiary in the second round of bidding. Both Vedanta and JSW Steel were aspirants for Essar Steel in the second round. This would be another attempt by both to get back in the fray.
After the Supreme Court order directed ArcelorMittal and Numetal to clear dues on account of defaulting firms that they were associated with, Numetal exited the race, and, in turn, JSW Steel. Between Vedanta and ArcelorMittal, the latter emerged as the preferred bidder.
Sources said even if the bid was put in by either of the companies, it would be jointly funded. In January, JSW Group Chairman Sajjan Jindal, in an interview to BloomberQuint, had hinted that his interest in Essar might not be over yet.
“It’s not done and dusted. It’s not over till it’s over,” he had said.
He had also backed Ruias’ settlement offer and said, “They (Ruias) should be given a chance. It is their company.”
The bid was likely to be made by February 28, by which the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) would have to pass orders on the Arcelor resolution plan, according to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal directive.
The NCLT Ahmedabad Bench concluded the hearing on the resolution plan last Thursday (February 14).
The Essar case has been dragging for more than 570 days now against a stipulated 270 days for resolution. In the last leg, efforts were being made to wrap up the case after the lead lender, State Bank of India, put its loan exposure on the block. However, with yet another twist in the offing, it could be expected to stretch further.
There have been many turns in the case.
Essar Steel shareholders, the Ruias, had made a last-minute offer of Rs 54,000 crore to settle the dues of the company. However, it was rejected by the NCLT, though the Ruias have challenged the order in the appellate tribunal.
Also, in the NCLT, Essar Steel directors including Prashant Ruia, filed a fresh application that they should be consulted by the committee of creditors while considering resolution plans in line with a Supreme Court order.