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Rediff.com  » Business » Ess Dee plans to buy Alcan arm

Ess Dee plans to buy Alcan arm

September 14, 2007 02:20 IST

Ess Dee Aluminium, whose promoter Sudip Datta once depended on Alcan for the bulk of his income, has joined the race to acquire the packaging business of the Montreal-based giant, which was recently taken over by Rio Tinto. The Mumbai-headquartered Ess Dee is the second domestic contender, the other being Essel Propack.

Bankers in the know of the development said there was a third contender as well --Australia's Amcore. Rio Tinto, the new promoter of Alcan, has already begun talks with the three companies, they said, adding that the deal size is expected to be around $1 billion (Rs 4,000 crore), or 1.2 times the turnover of the target.

Rio Tinto, which recently acquired Alcan for $38 billion, decided to pull out of the packaging business as it does not fit into Alcan's core area of operations and has been looking for a buyer for the past two months. Alcan makes packaging material for food and beverages, medical and pharmaceuticals as well as cosmetics and tobacco industries.

For Ess Dee, the successful acquisition of the packaging business of Alcan will give it presence in 13 countries —something which, otherwise, will take at least 10 years. Ess Dee posted net profit of Rs 37 crore and net sales of Rs 141 crore last year.

For Essel Propack, the acquisition will help it to become the world's largest personal care packaging company. Ess Dee's forte is medical and pharmaceuticals packaging, while Essel Propack is the country's largest personal packaging company with a consolidated sales of Rs 1,000 crore and net profit of Rs 98.5 crore.

It is learnt that DSP Merrill Lynch and Enam are advising Ess Dee on the acquisition. When contacted, an Ess Dee executive declined to comment. Essel Propack executives also did not want to comment on the issue.

According to investment bankers, the fact that two domestic companies are in the fray to acquire a business which is much bigger in size indicates the growing appetite of Indian companies for overseas purchase.

"You may call this the Tata effect. Post-Tata Steel's acquisition of Corus—Tata Steel is one-fourth the size of Corus— Indian Davids are not shy of vying for the assets of global Goliaths. On the other hand, global companies feel equally comfortable to talk to Indian firms which are a fraction of their size," said a banker.

Kausik Datta in Mumbai