Mumbai: Anand Burman, the 66-year-old Delhi-based businessman and chairman of Dabur Group, raised several eyebrows when he placed a joint bid with family friend Sunil Munjal to acquire control of Fortis Healthcare Ltd.
The move stimulated investors’ interest in the beleaguered hospital chain and raised its valuation from Rs139 per share in March to Rs180 per share this week. But, the decision of the Fortis board to allow Burman and Munjal acquire the firm has been contested by several shareholders. In an interview, Burman maintained that their offer is the best in the present circumstances and any “story put out where our offer has been shown in a poor light is misinformed and prejudicial".
“Would any company in India today go against sound legal and expert advice while making an important decision like this?" he added. Edited excerpts:
There have been comments from several quarters where your bid has been seen in a negative context...
Our response was to the exact requirement of the company, which appeared to have escaped the attention of several of the people who have made these comments. The company asked for binding bids, no diligence, urgent need of liquidity and certainty of deal closure.
We know we have the best offer, which is in the best interest of all concerned with the company. It is the quickest to implement, it has no walkaway provision for us, requires no exclusivity, or any additional documentation. This is not the case with the other offers... In our very opening note, we had mentioned that this is a national asset which requires, and deserves to be protected, and allowed to grow to its potential which is the reason we chose to make the offer in the manner we did, including not asking for diligence, and not attaching any conditionality with the offer.
We had even gone as far as to say that the warrants that normally have an 18-month period for exercise will get converted to equity very early—definitely within the first four months itself, or even earlier, if required by the company.
Why do you think Fortis board decided to choose your offer?
While our offer is clean, simple and easy to implement, every other offer has some condition, complication, or a feature which would extend the time of implementation, and thereby not be able to address the real needs of the company. We do believe that the various experts who looked at this would’ve taken this into consideration. We therefore also believe that any story put out where our offer has been shown in a poor light is misinformed and prejudicial.
The very fact that we were chosen clearly indicates that our offer found favour with most experts that the board was consulting. I ask you, would any company in India today go against sound legal and expert advice while making an important decision like this?
How do you look at the revised offer made by TPG-Manipal? Will you try to match it?
As I already said earlier, after full due process of the company asking for offers, multiple companies making offers and the acceptance of our offer, this stage of the process is already complete. The next part of the due process is for the company to send the resolution out for the shareholders to vote on.
We are as surprised as you at the fresh offer that has been made after due process was completed and publicly announced, especially by a company that had an existing right to match all our offers with the benefit of five days of hindsight and had already exercised this right earlier. From my response, you will understand that there is no need for us to consider making changes to the very sound offer that we already have in place.