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Cairn India to merge into Vedanta in $2.3 bn all-share deal

Cairn India to merge into  Vedanta in $2.3 bn all-share deal
India’s largest private miner Vedanta Ltd will absorb oil firm Cairn India in a $2.3 billion all-share deal to create India’s largest diversified natural resources company. Shareholders in Cairn India, the country’s top private oil producer, will get one ordinary share and 7.5 per cent redeemable preference share of Vedanta Ltd with a face value of Rs 10. That implies a premium of 7.3 per cent to Cairn’s Friday closing price.

Vedanta will use Rs 16,867 crore cash lying with Cairn to pay off part of its Rs 77,752 crore debt. Post-merger, London-listed parent Vedanta Resources Plc’s holding in Vedanta Ltd will drop to 50.1 per cent from 62.9 per cent. “The merger is the second step in the series that started in 2013 towards simplification of the corporate structure,” Vedanta Ltd chief executive Tom Albanese said in an interview. 

Vedanta, previously known as Sesa Sterlite Ltd, in 2013 consolidated its iron ore mining business by merging Sesa Goa Ltd with Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd, which ran copper and aluminium businesses. “This merger is about creating long term value that is not only good for Vedanta shareholders but also good, attractive and compelling for Cairn India shareholders,” he said.

The merger will help Cairn spread its risk from <g data-gr-id="34">volatile</g> oil business to other metals and commodities. “I am of the belief that diversified producers have enjoyed better shareholder returns than pure plays. If you look at how global oil and gas business has really suffered because of oil prices (fall in 2014), it clearly demonstrates that diversified groups are better than pure plays. The merger derisks the business and stabilizes revenue stream,” he added. The long-anticipated move would take Agarwal a step closer to achieving his ambition of building an India-integrated resources group in the mould of Rio Tinto or BHP Billiton. 

The move needs approval of 50 <g data-gr-id="45">per cent</g> of minority shareholders of Cairn India, including its former parent Cairn Energy, which owns 9.8 <g data-gr-id="46">per cent</g> of total shares, and state-run insurance company LIC, which owns another 9 <g data-gr-id="47">per cent</g>. When contacted, Cairn Energy spokesperson said, “We note the announcement and will assess whether the proposal is in the interests of Cairn Energy Plc as a shareholder in Cairn India Ltd in due course.” “This is a good deal for Cairn shareholders,” Albanese said. The transaction is <g data-gr-id="48">targetted</g> to be closed by March 31, 2016 and would need approval of both the stock exchanges, BSE and NSE, market regulator SEBI, High Court as well as Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas for transfer of Cairn India’s interest in oil and gas blocks like Barmer basin oil block in Rajasthan and Ravva oil and gas field in KG Basin to Vedanta Ltd.

Vedanta CFO <g data-gr-id="41">D D</g> Jalan said the cash at Cairn and debt at Vedanta have been duly considered in arriving at valuation and the swap ratio. Albanese said the Cairn brand will be retained even after the merger and there will be no job cuts. “Cairn is a very strong brand locally and we intend to retain that,” he said. Through the merger, Agarwal plans to use Rs 16,867 crore cash lying with Cairn to pay off part of Vedanta’s debt. Cairn has no debt, and cash needs have dwindled after investment programme was slashed by 60 <g data-gr-id="35">per cent</g> to $500 million for <g data-gr-id="36">current</g> year. 

‘Frustrated’ by Rs20,495-cr tax demand on Cairn: Vedanta
Cairn India facing Rs 20,495-crore tax notice, billionaire Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Group on Sunday said it is “frustrated” by the tax demand raised on it using retrospective legislation. The I-T Department had in March slapped a Rs 20,495 crore tax demand on Cairn India for failing to deduct withholding tax on alleged capital gains made by its erstwhile promoter, Cairn Energy Plc. The Rs 20,495-crore tax demand is <g data-gr-id="78">besides</g> I-T Department slapping a Rs 10,247-crore tax demand on Cairn Energy Plc. 
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