Mumbai: Hindalco Industries Ltd. is among potential buyers that submitted bids for US aluminum producer Aleris Corp., people with knowledge of the matter said, as Indian billionaire owner Kumar Mangalam Birla moves ahead with plans to expand his overseas operations.

Mumbai-listed Hindalco made a non-binding offer through its US unit, Novelis Inc., and will now conduct due diligence, according to the people. A deal could value Aleris at around $2.5 billion including debt, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Ohio-based Aleris, which is owned by Oaktree Capital Group LLC and Apollo Global Management LLC, had earlier agreed to sell itself to Zhongwang USA LLC for an enterprise value of $2.3 billion. The transaction, left in limbo after US officials raised national-security concerns about the Chinese-backed bidder, was called off in November after multiple extensions.

Any deal could help buck the decline in overseas acquisitions by Indian companies, which fell to an eight-year low of $4.25 billion in 2017, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Novelis swung to a profit in the quarter ended 30 September and raised its pretax earnings guidance for the financial year, buoyed by a rally in aluminum prices.

Capacity expansion

There’s no certainty Novelis will proceed to make a binding offer for Aleris, and other bidders could emerge, the people said.

A representative for Aditya Birla Group, the parent company of Hindalco, didn’t immediately reply to emailed queries. Spokesmen for Aleris and Oaktree declined to comment, while a spokesman for Apollo said he couldn’t immediately comment.

Novelis President Steve Fisher said in November the company’s strong balance sheet and record free cash flow are giving it the flexibility to evaluate potential growth opportunities. As part of its strategy, the company is “always going to be evaluating the opportunities in the marketplace" in addition to organic capacity expansion, Fisher told analysts on an earnings call.

Aleris makes rolled aluminum sheet products at manufacturing sites in North America, Europe and China, according to its website. Bloomberg

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