Adani, JSW Cement, ArcelorMittal vie for acquisition of Vadraj Cement

01 Nov 2023

An entity within the Adani Group, JSW Cement owned by Sajjan Jindal, and the ArcelorMittal Group are reportedly leading candidates for the acquisition of Vadraj Cement, a company belonging to the ABG Shipyard group. Sources familiar with the matter informed that the sale is set to take place under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code process.

The Bombay High Court, in August 2018, had ordered the winding up of Vadraj Cement in response to a legal action initiated by trade creditor Beumer Technology India seeking recovery of dues. Frustrated with the slow pace of asset sales, the court agreed to transfer the debt resolution process of Vadraj Cement to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), as mentioned by one of the individuals cited.

On September 4, the high court issued an order allowing the transfer of winding-up proceedings to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) based on a petition from a bank. Lenders have recommended Pulkit Gupta, backed by EY, as an interim resolution professional for the bankruptcy process of Vadraj.

Potential buyers are anticipated to submit bids ranging between Rs 20 billion and Rs 25 billion, according to the sources. Vadraj Cement carries a debt of Rs 70 billion, with lenders including Punjab National Bank, Union Bank of India, Central Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, UCO Bank, and Yes Bank.

The company possesses an integrated cement manufacturing facility with a 10,000 TPD clinker unit in Kutch and a 6-million-tonne cement grinding unit in Surat, Gujarat. However, both cement units are non-operational due to the sale of captive power plants following a loan default. Vadraj Energy (Gujarat) was acquired in October 2021 under the IBC route by Alpha Alternatives Holding in collaboration with Algebra Endeavour, as approved by a tribunal order.

Should ArcelorMittal emerge as the successful bidder, it would mark the company's entry into the cement sector. Although it had announced plans to establish an 18.75 mt cement plant in Odisha in December 2021, the Vadraj Cement unit in Gujarat is strategically located near Arcelor's steel plant acquired from Essar Steel. The cement plant is expected to complement the steel business, utilising steel slag with properties suitable for cement production.

Adani and JSW Cement have expressed intentions to increase their manufacturing capacities over the next five years, with Adani proposing an increase to 140 mt and JSW Cement aiming for a 60 mt output. Currently, the Aditya Birla Group, owner of Ultratech Cement, holds the position of India's largest cement maker with a manufacturing capacity of 137.5 mtpa, followed by ACC and Ambuja Cements, both owned by the Adani Group, with a combined capacity of 67.5 mt.

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