Mahindra open to unwinding units under $18 billion conglomerate

Mahindra Group is ready to cut its shareholdings in six listed entities to less than 51%, including Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services , which has a market value of Rs21,000 crore


A file photo of Mahindra Group managing director Anand Mahindra.  Photo: Mint
A file photo of Mahindra Group managing director Anand Mahindra. Photo: Mint

Mumbai: Mahindra Group, the $18 billion conglomerate with businesses from India’s largest SUV maker to financial services and farm equipment, is prepared to pare stakes in its publicly traded units to facilitate fundraising by the companies.

The group is ready to cut its shareholdings in six listed entities to less than 51%, including Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Ltd., which has a market value of Rs21,000 crore ($3.1 billion) — if the strategy they’re pursuing calls for it, chief financial officer V.S. Parthasarathy said in an interview in Mumbai. Mahindra will also encourage unlisted group companies to tap private equities for investment and list on stock exchanges.

Mahindra’s readiness to loosen its reins is aimed at increasing stakeholder returns, a move that would benefit the group as a shareholder, Parthasarathy said. Such a shift in strategy would follow in the footsteps of India’s largest conglomerate Tata Group, which has been gradually reducing its stakes in listed companies.

“Mahindra Group will enable the group companies to pursue their growth strategies,” Parthasarathy said on 10 October. “They will not stand in the way of these companies accessing growth capital to enhance stakeholder value only on the grounds that the parent’s holding might be diluted.”

Listed companies

Led by chairman Anand Mahindra, the parent company holds stakes in listed entities ranging from 21.7% in Mahindra CIE Automotive Ltd., a manufacturer of car components, to 75% in Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd., which runs membership plans for vacation resorts.

Its other listed companies include Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., India’s biggest manufacturer of sport-utility vehicles; Korean automaker SsangYong Motor Co.; Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Ltd.; software company Tech Mahindra Ltd., Mahindra Lifespace Developers Ltd., a real estate developer; EPC Industries Ltd., which manufactures industrial systems including sprinklers; and Swaraj Engines Ltd., a maker of tractor engines. It holds 26.8% in Mahindra & Mahindra, and 36.32% in Tech Mahindra.

The group empowers all its listed entities and their leaders to operate the businesses on their own rather than micro-managing them, Parthasarathy said. “Value creation is more important than control,” he said.

Unlisted Mahindra entities are free to tap private-equity investments to fuel growth and are encouraged to pursue stock listings when “appropriate,” Parthasarathy said. He declined to identify companies that are preparing to sell shares.

Spending plan

Mahindra has capital expenditure plans of Rs10,000 crore ($1.5 billion) across companies for the next three years, Parthasarathy said. The group, which in September sold Rs475 crore of 10-year bonds, plans to raise more funds via foreign and domestic routes, he said.

“The company has also cash and cash equivalents to meet the funding requirements,” Parthasarathy said. “The rationale behind raising bonds is to have some leverage on the balance sheet and use windows of opportunity.”

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