U.S. News

Tata Steel Outbids CSN in Corus Auction With $11.3 Billion Offer


India's Tata Steel said Wednesday it outbid Brazilian rival CSN to take over European steelmaker Corus Group, offering $11.3 billion (5.8 billion pounds) for the biggest-ever acquisition by an Indian company.

The winning bid values shares of London-based Corus at 608 U.K. pence each, 5 pence higher than the final offer made by CSN, said a statement from Tata Steel.

The U.K. Takeover Panel called the auction to end a bidding war after Brazil's Companhia Siderurgica Nacional last month made a 4.9 billion pound, or $9.6 billion, bid for Corus that topped a sweetened offer of about $9.2 billion by Tata Steel.

The panel presided over the auction process that started Tuesday evening and continued for several hours until CSN bowed out.

The acquisition of Corus will help "improve our negotiating power in the global steel market," J.J. Irani, a director on the board of Tata Steel, said on India's NDTV television after the announcement. "From a small player, we will now become a big player in the world market."

A successful acquisition of Corus will transform Tata Steel -- currently ranked 56th in the world in output -- into a global player in the metal business. A combined Tata-Corus could produce 25 million tons of steel a year making it the world's fifth-largest steel producer.

It would also continue the consolidation in the global steel industry after Mittal Steel's deal to acquire Arcelor to create a powerhouse with a 10% share of the global market.

CSN and Corus officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

The winning bid represents a 22% premium of the $9.2 billion Tata Steel had offered in October -- an offer later trumped by CSN -- the statement said.

Tata Steel said its financial advisers for the transaction, including ABN Amro, NM Rotchschild and Deutsche Bank, are satisfied that the company can raise enough money for the all-cash deal.

Tata Trumps CSN to Buy Corus

The European Commission had earlier cleared Tata Steel and CSN as eligible to make a possible acquisition of Corus, which has been searching for a business partner with assets in low-cost countries as rising raw material and energy costs in Britain and the Netherlands chip away at profits.

Some analysts argue that further consolidation will give the industry more pricing power and greater economies of scale.

Corus -- formed in 1999 when British Steel and Koninklijke Hoogovens of the Netherlands combined -- has plants in Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Norway and Belgium. It sells steel and aluminum products worldwide, and employs 47,300 people.

The Corus takeover would be the latest in a string of overseas acquisitions by top Indian companies, which are seeking global visibility after decades of thriving on government protection.

Working in their favor is a radical change in international perception, especially among investment bankers, that Indian firms are creditworthy and that many have the potential to become global companies. Government policy changes, such as easing foreign currency restrictions, have also helped.

India's Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath welcomed the news, saying "this means the global perception of India is changing." "It is a two-way street now," Nath said. "Not only India is seeking foreign investment, but Indian companies are emerging investors in other countries."

The winning bid for Corus is more than what India received in foreign direct investment last year.