Vedanta’s Sweetened Open Offer Gets 58% of Investor Bids

Anil Agarwal is inching closer to taking his Indian unit private as a sweetened offer to buy back 17.5% of the shares in Vedanta Ltd. drew in bids from more than half the holders.

Minority investors offered about 58% of the 651 million shares Vedanta Resources Ltd. is seeking to buy back, exchange data showed at 3:30 p.m. in Mumbai on Wednesday, the last day of the open offer. Vedanta Resources, which owns a little more than half of the Mumbai-listed company, is seeking to buy the shares from investors to take its holding closer to the 90% it requires before it can delist the stock.

Agarwal is looking to take full control of the company by buying back shares after investors thwarted an attempt to delist Vedanta last year. He sweetened the offer price by about 47% last month to entice more public shareholders to sell their stock.

The offer price of 235 rupees was more than double the delisting price that shareholders rejected in October. Agarwal, whose personal holding company has amassed about $7 billion of debt, wants access to Vedanta’s cash-rich balance sheet to help pare that debt.

“Considering the earlier offer participation, this is a decent response for the buyback,” said Ajit Mishra, vice president research at Religare Broking Ltd. “However, the kind of upcycle we are seeing in commodities, we believe investors would be expecting a much higher price than what the promoter has offered.”

Vedanta shares have surged 47% this year driven by higher commodity prices and better demand prospects globally. The stock rose 1.4% Wednesday to close at 236.85 rupees.

Debt servicing at Vedanta Resources will be onerous even with a higher stake and a bigger share of dividends from the India unit, Edelweiss Securities Ltd. said last month. Leverage will continue to rise at the parent company, it said.

Key Numbers:
  • Vedanta shares total roughly 3.72 billion
  • London-based parent Vedanta Resources already owns about 2.05 billion, or 55.11%, of these
  • The latest open offer is for Vedanta to buy 651 million, or 17.51%, additional shares
  • About 58%, or 374 million shares, of these public shares were tendered to the parent on the last date of the open offer, according to BSE data

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