Indian firms lining up more global mega deals

If you thought 2006 was a watershed year for global acquisitions by Indian companies and the pace was unlikely to sustain this year, you may be surprised at the number and size of potential deals waiting to unfold this year.

Domestic companies are getting increasingly more aggressive in going after global deals to expand into mature markets. Buy-out opportunities are also on the rise globally with many excellent businesses being put on the block.

Tata Steel is all set to increase its offer for Corus steel shortly, if reports are to be believed. Corus stock rallied last week to new highs on the LSE as most analysts expect Tata Steel to hike its bid to as much as 550 pence per share of Corus.

These analysts and industry watchers reckon that, having come this far, Tata Steel is unlikely to let this opportunity pass. Though the price may appear to be high, there are not many steel companies of Corus's size, which are available for acquisitions. A firm outlook for steel prices — iron ore exporters have negotiated higher prices for this year — may also encourage Tata Steel to hike its bid.

Reliance Industries would have an opportunity to beat the Tata Group for the largest overseas acquisition by an Indian company, if the plastics business of GE is put up for sale. There have been persistent rumours for many months that GE is considering such an option. Though the company has not formally responded to rumours, Reliance is said to be very keen to acquire GE Plastics. The business is indicatively valued at $10 billion and the valuation would rise further if there is a bidding war.

There are also rumours that Aditya Birla Group major Hindalco is planning a large overseas acquisition. The target, according to earlier media reports, is a division of global aluminium major Alcan. Once these rumours ebbed following a formal denial from Alcan, latest reports indicate that Hindalco is eyeing the aluminium division of Norwegian company Norsk Hydro. The Norwegian government has initiated a merger of Norsk Hydro with state-owned oil company Statoil. Analysts believe that the merged entity would be converted into an energy pure play and the aluminium business of Norsk Hydro would be sold off.