Flames escape from a red hot seamless steel pipe as it passes through the tube rolling shop at a manufacturing plant in Russia. (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

VTB-Led Group Offers to Match Arcelor's $5.8 Billion Essar Bid

(Bloomberg) -- A VTB Capital-led consortium has offered to match ArcelorMittal’s 420 billion rupee ($5.8 billion) bid for Essar Steel India Ltd., heating up the long drawn battle for the biggest steel mill being sold under India’s new bankruptcy law.

Numetal Ltd., the consortium led by VTB, is willing to revise its earlier bid of 370 billion rupees for the 10 million tons a year steel manufacturing unit, Mukul Rohatgi, the lawyer representing the company, told the nation’s top court on Thursday. At the same time, rival bidder ArcelorMittal must pay the 70 billion rupees its group companies owe to creditors to stay in the race, he said. The court is yet to take a decision.

Acquiring Essar Steel’s assets will give the buyer a sizable presence in a sector that is expected to benefit from India’s plan to invest trillions of rupees on roads, ports and airports. That’s prompted a prolonged legal challenge by bidders in multiple courts to prove their eligibility and delayed the sale. Essar owes creditors about 507.8 billion rupees.

On Sept. 7, an appeals court had asked ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, to pay off dues in group companies -- KSS Petron Pvt. and Uttam Galva Steels Ltd.-- in order to be a valid bidder. The Supreme Court Thursday reserved a verdict on the validity of ArcelorMittal’s and Numetal’s bids and a decision is likely in next few weeks.

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