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Tatas outbid CSN, acquire Corus

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VICTOR & TEAM: A beaming Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Group, second from right, at a press meet in Mumbai on Wednesday after the acquisition of Corus for £6.7 billion. The others in the photograph, from left, are N.A. Soonawala, Vice-Chairman, Tata Sons; B. Muthuraman, Managing Director, Tata Steel; and Koushik Chatterjee, Senior Vice-President (Finance), Tata Sons. Photo: Paul Noronha
VICTOR & TEAM: A beaming Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Group, second from right, at a press meet in Mumbai on Wednesday after the acquisition of Corus for £6.7 billion. The others in the photograph, from left, are N.A. Soonawala, Vice-Chairman, Tata Sons; B. Muthuraman, Managing Director, Tata Steel; and Koushik Chatterjee, Senior Vice-President (Finance), Tata Sons. Photo: Paul Noronha

Hasan Suroor

They came up with a surprise offer CSN could not match and Corus could not refuse

  • 608 pence a share, 5 pence above CSN offer
  • Best deal: Corus chief

    LONDON: The fight went down to the wire but, in the end, Tatas, initially seen as the underdogs, punched their way to victory in a dramatic bidding war here with Brazil's Companhia Siderurgica Nacional (CSN) to acquire the Anglo-Dutch steel firm Corus for an unexpected £6.7 billion.

    The victory came in the early hours of Wednesday when, in a surprise move, Tata Steel raised its bid to 608 pence a share five pence higher than the rival CSN's offer and clinched the deal.

    By then the auction, which started at 4.30 p.m. on Tuesday, had gone on for more than eight hours and just when it appeared that CSN was very nearly home with a bid of 603 pence a share, Tatas came up with an offer that CSN could not match and Corus could not refuse.

    Industry observers suggested that Tatas had paid way too much, but the Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata justified it saying that the acquisition of Corus, which marks Tata Steel's first expansion outside Asia, was worth it.

    The final deal, which reportedly includes £500 million in debt, will cost Tatas £2.4 billion more than what they would have paid had the original deal, signed last October, gone through. The agreed price then was £4.3 billion, at 415 pence a share. At the time even that appeared a bit on the higher side for a company like Corus, which has huge liabilities.

    But the deal fell through when CSN, after opting out of the battle to acquire Corus, returned to the ring with a fresh bid of 515 pence a share, triggering a wave of offers and counter-offers and culminating in Tuesday's auction by Britain's Takeover Panel. The auction made a bit of a history with Corus becoming only the third company after Canary Wharf and QXL Ricardo to be sold in this manner. What really surprised observers was the ferocity with which the two rivals fought with the bidding going into an unprecedented ninth round. "To use a footballing term, Tatas won it on a shoot-out," one expert said.

    The auction brought to an end Corus' two-year-long search for a partner and the company's board hailed the final Tata offer as the "best value" for its shareholders. It intended to recommend unanimously that shareholders approve the deal.

    Jim Leng, chairman of Corus, said: "The final offer of 608 pence from Tata is the culmination of a thorough process conducted by my Board to secure both the best value for shareholders and the right strategic future for Corus. "

    The merger would create the world's fifth biggest steel company.

    Corus, created from the merger of British Steel and Hoogovens, employs 47,300 people worldwide, including 24,000 in the U.K. at plants at Port Talbot, Scunthorpe and Rotherham.

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