In an intensifying two-way battle, Zuari Fertilisers, on Thursday, hiked its stake to nearly 16 per cent in UB group’s Mangalore Chemicals & Fertilisers Ltd. (MCFL), where rival Deepak Fertilisers had picked up over 24 per cent equity.

All the three companies compete with each other in the fertilizer business, but huge debt load of Vijay Mallya-led group has led to speculations about MCFL being an apparent takeover target for rivals Zuari Fertilisers and Deepak Fertilisers.

Officially, Zuari Fertilisers and Deepak Fertilisers have so far stayed away from disclosing any plans for eventual takeover of MCFL, but have amassed significant stakes from the open market.

After acquiring 3.5 per cent stake in MCFL on Wednesday, Zuari Fertilisers on Thursday again bought 30 lakh shares, amounting to 2.52 per cent stake of MCFL for about Rs.20 crore, and hiked its cumulative stake to 15.77 per cent.

At the same time, another investor, Reliance Capital, on Thursday sold about 15 lakh shares of MCFL for Rs.10 crore.

Saroj Poddar-led Zuari Fertilisers had first acquired nearly 10 per cent stake in MCFL for Rs.44.3 crore in April.

Besides, Deepak Fertilisers picked up 24.46 per cent equity in MCFL for Rs.179 crore from the open market last week.

Any direct or indirect acquisition of shares amounting to 25 per cent or more stake in a listed company triggers a mandatory open offer by the acquirer for public shareholders.

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