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Rediff.com  » Business » Tatas bet big on Corus, expansion

Tatas bet big on Corus, expansion

By Ishita Ayan Dutt & Kausik Datta in Kolkata/Mumbai
January 29, 2007 11:13 IST
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It's not just Corus. Tata Steel will have to brace up for one more battle back home -- sourcing iron ore for its ambitious expansion plans. But a successful acquisition of the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker will not spoil the company's domestic expansion plans.

On the contrary, both are complementary, said sources close to the company.

Tata Steel's greenfield projects -- in Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand -- were significant for Corus, which incurred high cost on raw materials, said sources close to Tata Steel. They added the company would be able to send slabs from these plants to Corus.

"However, this is not the only advantage thatĀ  Tata Steel is bringing to Corus. Operational management and other synergies are equally significant," they pointed out.

With Corus in sight, Tata Steel has raised its production target to 100 million tonne till 2015, more than three timesĀ  its previous target of 30 million tonne. Tata Steel now produces five million tonne of steel at its Jamshedpur plant.

As of now, the company has enough iron ore to feed its plant in Jamshedpur with a capacity of 5 million tonne. However, more iron ore will be required, once the Jamshedpur plant goes for expansion, as well as for the Jharkhand and Orissa plants.

Tata Steel's greenfield 12 million tonne Jharkhand project is gathering dust since the rehablitation and resettlement package has not been announced by the government, as yet. Without the policy in place, the company would not be allotted land. The Orissa project for which the company has placed orders worth of Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) is on track. Once the company invests around 25 per cent of its project cost, it would be allotted iron ore mines.

Tata Steel sources indicated that the 10 Chhattisgarh villages had passed resolutions in support of acquisition of land. The company is eyeing a five million tonne capacity plant in the state.

If Tata Steel's iron ore plans are seeing some hiccups, rival suitor CSN is somewhat in the same boat. Another Brazilian miner CVRD has challenged CSN's ability to supply cheap iron ore from Brazil to feed the Corus plants in Europe. CSN, however, dismissed the CVRD claim.

However, these would have little significance on the acquisition process of Corus which would be put up for the auction beginning on Tuesday. The winner is expected to be declared on Wednesday or Thursday.

The auction will include eight rounds in which both rivals-- Tata Steel and CSN-- can submit fixed price cash bids. If none of them withdraws, there will be the final and last ninth round which will give chance to the offerors to outbid the other within a ceiling that has already been informed to the panel.

There has to be a difference of at least five pence for each round of the bid between the two suitors. It means, the Corus shareholders could get as much as 600 pence a share if the fight between the two suitors lasts till the ninth round. At the moment, CSN's 515 pence a share offer is more than Tata Steel's bid of 500 pence a share.

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Ishita Ayan Dutt & Kausik Datta in Kolkata/Mumbai
Source: source
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