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Rediff.com  » Business » Tata, CSN battle set for grand finale

Tata, CSN battle set for grand finale

Source: PTI
January 29, 2007 15:06 IST
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The battle royale for Corus is set for a grand finale beginning on Tuesday when the Anglo-Dutch steel maker comes under the hammer and whoever between Tata and CSN bids the highest would walk away with the deal.

Industry watchers across India, Britain and Brazil are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the deal, as eagerly as the three companies involved.

While CSN has gone on record about how confident it is on winning the battle, the Tatas have remained tight-lipped on the whole exercise.

"We remain determined to acquire Corus and we enter the process with confidence," a CSN spokesperson told PTI after the announcement of auction process.

The auction process that could take the final bid to anything above $11 billion has not only raised the issue of whether it would be a fair value for Corus, it has also raised concerns about job cuts the winner could impose on Corus workforce.

Both the bidders have previously termed their respective offers -- 500 pence a share by Tata and 515 pence bid by CSN -- as fair valuation for Corus, while promising no job cuts after the deal.

However, analysts believe a winner would have to eventually go for job cuts from Corus' over 24,000 strong workforce to achieve their estimated cost synergies.

British daily The Independent quoted analysts as saying that a successful bid by Tata Steel was likely to result in job losses sooner than under CSN's ownership.

SG Securities analyst Luc Pez told the paper that both suitors would like to close Corus's slab-steel manufacturing operations because it is cheaper to make it themselves.

However, Tata could do this (job cuts) sooner than CSN because it plans to start exporting slab steel by as early as 2008, whereas CSN will probably not do so before 2010, the analyst said.

The tension is also flaring up at both CSN and Tata Steel due to the size and importance of the Corus deal. While both the companies have made overseas acquisitions in the past, none was as big as Corus and definitely not through an auction process.

Also, the deal could catapult one of the two suitors to the fifth slot in the world's biggest steel makers list and Corus is equally important for both CSN and Tata to expand their footprint in the important European market.

Tata Steel's board is scheduled to meet tomorrow to discuss its quarterly results, but the company's Corus bid is expected to hog all the limelight at the meeting.

There have been unconfirmed reports that the board might discuss a new bid for Corus in this meeting itself.

Doubts have been also raised that Brazilian mining group CVRD could put a spanner in CSN's chances for winning the bid. However, CSN has reaffirmed its commitment to acquire Corus, while terming the reports about a legal dispute over iron ore supply with Brazilian mining group CVRD threatening its bid as baseless.

According to a report in British daily Financial Times last week, the Latin American's bid to acquire Corus could be blown off the course by a dispute over CSN's rights to iron-ore supply that would be crucial to a merged business and this could lend fresh impetus to the rival bidder Tata Steel.

The Tata-Corus saga
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