Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Eternal Triangle Of Corus - Tatas - CSN

When Tatas successfully bid for the acquisition of the Anlo-Dutch behemoth Corus, it was an euphoric moment for me as the Indian corporate giant appeared to be emerging as an Indian MNC to take on the world champions of industry. I also found it somewhat ironical that because of the globalisation, Tatas were set to become for U.K. in 21st century what was East India Company when it had entered India in 18th century. The acquisition was very keenly watched as it was slated to be the largest Indian acquisition of any foreign company worth $8.1 billion that could push the rank of the new combine Tata-Corus to become the fifth largest steel manufacturer in the world.
So far, everything seemed to proceed on the expected lines and we were all thrilled to see the beaming smiles of the top Tata officials in TV and print media. The Corus board had also approved the offer of 455 pence a share made by Tatas though a third party could still throw a spanner in the works till the EGM of shareholders put the final seal on it. The acquisition drama would have lost its excitement had not CSN - a Brazilian steel manufacturer announced its plan to bid 475 pence a share raising the buyout price to $8.3 billion. The new suitor CSN's entry can be likened to the usual Bollywood stuff where the hero who is deeply in love with the heroine suddenly faces the risk of loosing her as someone villainously tries to snatch her.
Getting down to brass tacks, CSN has not only made a higher offer, albeit informally so far, it has the advantage of owning iron ore mines and have been exporting 30 million tonnes annually which is likely to go up to 50 million tonnes by 2010. Owning iron ore mines by steel manufacturers is winning half the battle in competition. It is because of such advantages that Tatas are credited with making the cheapest steel in the world. In case of Tata-Corus combine, Tatas would be able to supply slabs only to Corus who would have to alter their existing manufacturing process. CSN's steel manufacturing capacity is higher than Tata's and had made 5.8 million tonnes during the year 2005.
The bidding war has just started and the share price of Corus has already crossed 500 pence a share. In the changed situation, Tatas will have to revise their offer to clinch the deal. I am sure Tatas will not throw in the towel so early. Though Tatas are viewed as a role model in the corporate world, they seem to have a weakness. When it comes to showing its nerves of steel in forays in new locations, it has disappointed its admirers and its image has taken a beating in the past as in Gopalpur and Bangladesh.
What Tatas will do to win the hands of Corus? I will be happy to see Tatas a winner. Let not the acquisition drama end like the film Devdas where the hero ruins himself instead of trying to save Paro.