With minority shareholders of Cairn India said to be against the merger of the company with parent Vedanta Ltd, Vedanta Group Chairman Anil Agarwal today hoped he wouldn’t have to sweeten the merger offer.
Minority shareholders like Cairn Energy plc of UK, the erstwhile promoter of Cairn India, which still holds close to 10 per cent interest in the oil explorer, disagree with 1:1 share swap offered.
“Merger may happen in the next couple of months,” Agarwal told reporters here.
Asked if he will look at sweetening of the deal, he said, “that is not in my hand. I hope sweetening is not required.”
Minority shareholders were not too enthused by offer of one Vedanta share for every one they currently hold in Cairn India, as also there preference was to hold an investment in an energy company rather than a distributed resources group.
Vedanta already has a 59.88 per cent stake in Cairn India. State-owned insurer Life Insurance Corp (LIC), Cairn India’s second-largest minority shareholder, and which together with Cairn Energy controls about 19 per cent of the Indian company, too had earlier expressed reservations about the deal.
Vedanta has already pushed back the deadline for the merger to June quarter of 2016 as against the first quarter stated previously.
Announcing financial results for the first half of 2015-16 on November 11, Vedanta Resources — the parent firm of Vedanta Ltd, said: “We continue to work towards completion of the transaction by Q2 (April-June) 2016.”
While announcing the merger plans in June this year, Vedanta had said: “The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of CY 2016.”
Last month in a concall with reporters after announcing Vedanta Ltd’s September quarter results, Vedanta Group’s CEO Tom Albanese had said they have received a ‘No Objection’ from the stock exchanges — BSE and NSE — on September 10, 2015.
“The validity of Observation Letter is six months from September 10, 2015, within which the Scheme of Amalgamation is required to be submitted to the High Court,” he had said.
Albanese told reporters that the merger “may happen sometime in the next calender year.”
On minority investors in Cairn India, he said the matter could be put before shareholders for their nod as early as January next year.
Vedanta needs the deal to go through by March 2016 as otherwise it will have to repay USD 1.25 billion it had taken as inter-company loan couple of years back.
In 2011, Vedanta Group acquired 58.5 per cent controlling interest in Cairn India from its UK parent, Cairn Energy plc, 20 per cent of this was acquired by Vedanta Ltd and 38.5 per cent by Twinstar Mauritius Holdings Ltd (TMHL) – a special purpose vehicle wholly owned by Vedanta Resources plc (VED).
The acquisition by TMHL was funded by USD 4.43 billion of debt made up of bank debt sured by Cairn India shares and parent company guarantee/loan from VED. In August 2013, Vedanta Ltd acquired TMHL from VED.