By Debarati Roy/Bloomberg
Mumbai: Lakshmi Mittal, the world’s fifth- richest man, is competing with two fellow Indian billionaires to buy control of Sesa Goa Ltd, the nation’s largest non-state iron ore exporter, people familiar with the plan said.
Japan’s Mitsui and Co. is selling its 51% stake in Panaji, Goa-based Sesa Goa worth as much as $1 billion (Rs4,286 crore) and may select a buyer this week, said the people, who didn’t want to be identified before an announcement. The three bidders are Arcelor Mittal, the world’s largest steel company, Aditya Birla Group and Vedanta Resources Plc, they said.
Lakshmi Mittal wants to fend off Kumar Mangalam Birla and Vedanta’s Anil Agarwal to obtain iron ore for his steel mills and reduce production costs. Demand from China drove iron ore prices to records for the past five years, spurring more than $157 billion of mining mergers in 2006.
“Iron ore mines are one of the most sought after assets today and the ore available here is of good quality,” said Sanjay Dongre, who oversees about $1 billion in stocks at UTI Asset Management Co. in Mumbai. “Any company that buys Sesa will not only want to sell in India but continue selling overseas in countries like China where the demand is huge.”
Arcelor Mittal and Posco plan to spend $21 billion on plants in the next seven years in India, which has the world’s fifth-largest iron ore reserve.