“The Jaiprakash Associates acquisition is on track and should get done sooner than later," group chief financial officer Sushil Agarwal said, without giving details. On completion, the purchase will increase UltraTech’s cement capacity by almost a third to 90.7 million tonnes per annum and give the company access to the markets of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh East, Himachal Pradesh and coastal Andhra Pradesh, where it does not have a presence.
UltraTech in July last year said it will acquire Jaiprakash Associates’ cement plants, with a total capacity of 21.2 million tonnes per annum, in one of the largest deals in the cement sector in India. Both companies are looking to complete the merger by July, which is within the estimated time frame, two people directly aware of the merger process said, requesting anonymity. In a regulatory filing in July 2016, UltraTech said that the acquisition was expected to be completed in the “next 9-10 months after getting all regulatory and shareholders’ approvals".
In March, Jaiprakash Associates received the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)’s approval for transfer of its cement plants to UltraTech Cement. The deal also received the Competition Commission of India (CCI)’s approval in August and shareholders’ nod in October. Agarwal said there are no plans to make large cement acquisitions in the immediate future. “At the industry level, overall utilization for cement is low. Cement is a business which is a regional play in some forms. Broadly, at the larger industry level, there may not be any large capacity addition because that may not help the industry at this stage," added Agarwal. UltraTech Cement reported an 11.3% drop in its fiscal fourth-quarter profit at Rs726 crore against Rs819 crore in the year earlier.
Revenue rose 3% to Rs7,020 crore in the three months ended 31 March from Rs6,819 crore in the year-ago period. “Typically, deals of such nature require approvals from multiple regulatory approvals. We understand that while UltraTech Cement has received several necessary approvals, it is still in the process of getting ownership of mining leases transferred to its name," said Mangesh Bhadang, cement and infrastructure analyst at Nirmal Bang Securities Pvt. Ltd. “The deal will strengthen UltraTech’s presence in the markets of central India and coastal Andhra Pradesh, which augurs well for the company as it will significantly reduce lead in several key markets."
The cement sector in India has witnessed several large deals in the past year, signalling consolidation in the space. In July, Gujarat-based soap and detergent maker Nirma Ltd announced the acquisition of Lafarge India’s cement assets for $1.4 billion. In August, Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infrastructure Ltd sold its cement business to Kolkata-based Birla Corp. Ltd, the flagship company of the MP Birla Group for Rs4,800 crore. Significantly, the sector has also seen rising interest from global private equity funds and strategic investors. While Blackstone was one of the final contenders for Reliance Infra’s assets, foreign cement companies such as China’s Anhui Conch cement and Mexico’s CEMEX group had unsuccessfully bid for Lafarge India’s assets. Topics