UltraTech, Adani Cement, and JSW in Race for Heidelberg India

01 Oct 2023

UltraTech Cement, a flagship company of the Aditya Birla Group and India?s second-largest cement producer, along with Adani Cement, led by Parth Jindal and the Adani Group, might join the race alongside JSW Cement, led by Parth Jindal, to acquire Heidelberg Cement. Heidelberg Cement, a global company headquartered in Germany, has put its Indian subsidiary on the market, which operates with a manufacturing capacity of 13.4 million tonnes per annum across various plants in India, including locations in Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala.

JSW Cement has initiated talks with Heidelberg Cement; however, Heidelberg?s exit strategy from India involves a comprehensive bidding process, according to a source familiar with the matter. Additionally, Heidelberg's Indian subsidiary, being a listed entity, must adhere to the due process outlined by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to safeguard investor interests.

Operating challenges are mounting for foreign-owned cement companies in India, the world?s second-largest market, due to intensified competition and the necessity to invest significantly in decarbonisation projects. UltraTech, led by Kumar Mangalam Birla, plans to expand its capacity from 138 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 200 mtpa. The company has already doubled its grey cement production capacity from 66.3 mtpa in FY16 to 132.4 mtpa in FY23. UltraTech has commenced work on an additional capacity of 22.6 mtpa, investing Rs 130 billion in the expansion.

Meanwhile, Adani Cement, under the leadership of billionaire Gautam Adani, acquired Ambuja Cements and ACC in India, owned by Switzerland-based Holcim. This strategic move propelled Adani Cement to become the country?s second-largest cement producer overnight. Combined, Ambuja and ACC have a capacity of 73 mtpa, with plans to increase it to 140 mtpa by FY?28. These debt-free companies generate revenue of Rs 400 billion and anticipate annual sales growth of 18-20%.

It is noteworthy that Heidelberg Materials expanded its presence in the Indian market through acquisitions after entering India in 2006. The group acquired majority stakes in Mysore Cements and Cochin Cements. In 2008, Heidelberg Materials acquired the Indorama Cement joint venture, further solidifying its presence. The group augmented its capacity by 3 mtpa in Central India through brownfield expansion in 2013. Additionally, the acquisition of Italcementi in 2016 enabled the group to more than double its installed capacity, positioning it among the top 10 players in India. Heidelberg Materials sells its products under the Mycem and Zuari brands.

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