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Home > Business > Special

Meet the man who handled Tatas' Corus bid

Kausik Datta | February 05, 2007

Tata group chairman Ratan Tata did not sleep a wink on the fateful night of January 31. He and his trusted lieutenants, camped in a suite at Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, were constantly keeping touch with his team at London where the Anglo-Dutch steel company Corus Group was being sold through an auction.

In the wee hours, he received a call from his London team. Tata Steel purchased Corus. The rest is history.

Meet Arunkumar Ramanlal Gandhi. The head of the M&A activities in the Tata Group, who called up Tata to convey Tata Steel's victory.

While Tata along with the group's other honchos like Noshir Soonawala (vice-chairman, Tata Sons), B Muthuraman (managing director, Tata Steel) and Koushik Chatterjee (VP, finance, Tata Steel) were biting their nails with tension, Gandhi was representing the Tatas at the auction process.

"Of course, they had their homework ready. But implementing the homework properly was not an easy task," says a banker who knows Gandhi well.

Ask Gandhi and he would tell you that it was a very easy task to handle the bidding process of Corus. "When I had submitted my bid in the last round of the auction at 12.01 am London time (5.31 am in India), I was a relaxed man. Because I believe in a simple theory: what is written, can not be rewritten," he tells Business Standard after returning a winner.

An avid follower of Jainism -- he practices the tenets of the Jain religion on every Wednesday with a teacher for an hour -- he says he is never worried about the ultimate result.

"We endeavour to deliver the best. However, the results are not in our hand. Jainism, which is older than Buddhism, teaches us to work hard and be happy, without being concerned about the end results," he adds.

He has been responsible for many acquisitions of the group, which has been the largest acquirer of foreign companies in the country over the past three-and-a-half years. Consider the long list: Tyco, Teleglobe, Brune Mond, INCAD, Eight O' Clock, Good Earth, Glaceau, Imacid and Corus. But Corus is the most satisfying of the lot, he admits.

Each acquisition had its own challenges but Corus was different on many counts. Apart from the sheer size of the deal, this was the first listed company taken over by the group, outbidding a strong contender. "For this, we had to understand the UK takeover laws and make ourselves compliant with them," he points out.

Gandhi, 63, joined the group's holding company Tata Sons only three-and-a-half years ago. Prior to joining Tata Sons, he was a senior partner at N M Raiji & Company until July 2003. The firm has more than 60 years of professional standing.

He joined the firm as a partner in July 1969 and was elevated to the position of senior partner in 1993. There, he handled a variety of client engagements, including advisory services relating to mergers and acquisitions.

After the successful acquisition of Corus, Gandhi sets a simple target for himself: he wants to buy many more such companies. And bankers who know him and the Tata Group say they have the capability to do so. "We have become bolder after the Corus acquisition," Gandhi concludes.

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