Tata, CSN wary of regulator-led bids

London, Mumbai, Jan 21 | Updated: Jan 22 2007, 06:10am hrs
Merchant banking sources close to Corus said that Tata Steel and Brazils CSN the two suitors for the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker have expressed their apprehensions over the auction process, as the UK Takeover Panel could ask for a minimum increase of anything between 25 pence and 50 pence between each offer if the battle is resolved under the hammer.

In addition, the auction process could further delay the outcome, as compared to a winner being decided before the intervention of the Panel, sources said.

The UK Takeover Panel, which has ruled that an auction process could be initiated if the competitive situation prevails shortly before January 30, is likely to announce the terms and conditions for the auction in the next few days.

The takeover battle for Corus is set for a gripping climax with reports across the world suggesting both the suitors Tata Steel and Brazils CSN are gearing to hike their respective bids, despite their reservations against it.

While various reports over the past week suggested Tata Steel was close to up the ante with a new offer, a Brazilian daily said that CSN has convinced its bankers to increase the loan commitments to fund the deal by up to 20%.

However, investment bankers close to the deal say Tata and CSN are in a catch-22 situation over their Corus bid both are eager to clinch the deal, but seriously believe their current offers fairly value the Anglo-Dutch steel maker.

Even if the two decide to go for higher bids, none is in a hurry and would like to wait till the last minute to cut the reaction time for the rival bidder.

At the same time, both might not like to delay any hike in the bid to a point when the regulators step in with their auction process.