Holcim declines comment on Indian bid talk

Holcim declines comment on Indian bid talk
Published: 05 January 2006

Holcim , the world’s second biggest cement maker, has declined comment on market talk that it was eyeing India’s third-largest cement maker Gujarat Ambuja Cements Ltd to expand its operations in India.

A spokesman for the Swiss company, which has a market capitalisation of US$16.2bn, had no comment on the market rumours on Wednesday but noted the group already has a presence in India.

"In principle we believe in the Indian market (and) that is why we have entered the market," he said. Holcim owns a 35 per cent stake in Associated Cement Companies Ltd (ACC) – Gujarat Ambuja’s larger rival.

Earlier the Julius Baer equities advisory team said there was market talk that Holcim was interested in bidding for Gujara Ambuja for 105 Indian rupees per share, which would value the company at around US$3.2bn.

Gujarat Ambuja said it was not aware of any takeover plans.

Shares in the Indian company rose some eight per cent in Mumbai on the market talk while Holcim shares were little changed at 90.65 francs.

"Even such a move could be seen as positive (though) A possible capital increase could put some pressure on the stock," the JB Equities Advisory team said in a note.

Meanwhile,  Warburg Pincus has sold all of its holdings in Gujarat Ambuja Cement Ltd held by its investment vehicle, Affinity Investment Ltd. In July 2001, through Affinity Investment Ltd, Warburg Pincus acquired eight million shares in the cement company through a commitment of US$38.23m. In this first one-time share disposal by Affinity Investment Ltd., Warburg Pincus recorded a return of US$108m to its coffers. In addition to this, Warburg Pincus also received dividends from Gujarat Ambuja Cement Ltd.