A sign sits on top of the the ArcelorMittal Ostrava a.s plant in Ostrava, Czech Republic. (Photographer: Martin Divisek/Bloomberg  )

Arcelor Is Said to Offer $672 Million for Essar Power Plant

(Bloomberg) -- ArcelorMittal has made an offer of 48 billion rupees ($672 million) to buy an Essar Power generation plant in India, outbidding the founding Ruia brothers, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The non-binding offer from the world’s largest steel producer to lenders of the 1,200-megawatt power plant in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh compares with a 35 billion-rupee settlement offer made by Essar’s founders -- Shashi Ruia and Ravi Ruia -- the people said asking not to be named, as the discussions are private.

The Ruias and steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal are slugging it out before India’s courts to gain control of Essar Steel India Ltd., after ArcelorMittal emerged as the winning bidder to buy the alloy maker. The power plant, which supplies electricity to the steel mill, would boost ArcelorMittal’s attempts for a foothold in the Indian market.

Lenders, led by ICICI Bank Ltd., have given ArcelorMittal permission to carry out due diligence of the asset, which is in the midst of debt restructuring with 75 billion rupees of outstanding loans. A firm bid may come only after the due diligence is complete, the people said.

Spokesman for ArcelorMittal and the Essar group declined to comment, while ICICI’s representative didn’t respond to a phone call and email seeking comment.

ICICI Bank had filed an insolvency case against the Essar group company last year, but the case stalled after the nation’s top court ordered a hold on such moves against power companies. The apex court’s order came on a plea from power producers, who have said that their inability to make timely payments was due to issues including fuel shortages, delayed payment by distribution utilities and slow resolution of tariff claims by regulators.

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