Race for Asarco Hots Up - The fight to take over US-based copper mining company Asarco, which had appeared to be settled in favour of Anil Agarwal-controlled Sterlite Industries, could start all over again. Grupo Mexico has suggested an all-cash $1.3-billion bid to counter Sterlite’s recent offer to buy out the assets of the ailing company for a cash-cum-deferred payment bid. Grupo’s bid is intended as an alternative to Sterlite’s offer of $1.1 billion in cash and $600 million in debt. The Grupo offer comes nearly a month after Asarco agreed in principle to sell its assets, including three copper mines and a smelter in Arizona, to Sterlite. (The Economic Times)

GHCL Promoters Buy Back FCCBs At 60% Discount - GHCL has bought back foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs) worth $11 million from overseas investors, out of FCCBs worth $80 million raised in 2005-06, to fund various expansions. The company is talking to other bond holders to buyback the remaining FCCBs, which will allow it to lower its interest outgo and improve debt-to- equity ratio. The firm which is engaged in home textile and soda ash manufacturing, besides furnishing retail, bought back a part of these bonds at 60% discount funded through internal accruals. The bonds which were to mature in 2011, carried an equity conversion price of Rs 147.9 per share as against Rs 35, the price at which GHCL scrip closed on BSE on Monday. (The Economic Times)

Future Group to Acquire 60% Stake in Ad Agency Dhar & Hoon - Three years after it snapped up hot-shot ad executive Santosh Desai, the Future group is further strengthening its ties with avdertising. The group will soon acquire a 60% controlling stake in creative boutique Dhar & Hoon. An agreement is likely to be signed next week. The acquisition will be made by group company Future Brands, which incidentally is headed by Santosh Desai. The new entity will be branded as D&H Blurb Communications. (The Economic Times)

Subhiksha Expects to Wrap Up Debt Recast by April - Cash-strapped retail chain Subhiksha today said its corporate debt restructuring (CDR) would have to end by July this year at any rate, although it expected the process to be completed before April-end. According to the company, CDR is a time-bound process of a maximum of 180 day and has to end at any rate by July 2009. Subramanian said the company now hoped to make around 75% of its stores operational after the CDR. The company, in early March, had declared its intention to close down 350-400 stores permanently due to low sales and high rentals. (Business Standard)

Mittal Keen on Selling Half His Stake in Kazakh Oil Field to OVL - Steel czar Lakshmi N Mittal is keen on selling half of his stake in a Kazakhstan oil field to state-run ONGC Videsh Ltd to tide over the severe financial constraint affecting his planned expansion in the energy sector. Mittal Investment Sarl, the holding firm of the Mittal family’s interest in the world’s largest steel firm, ArcelorMittal, had in April 2007 acquired a 25 per cent stake in Caspian Investments Resources from Russian oil firm Lukoil for $980 million. (Business Standard)

Religare Eyeing Global Tie-Ups for Health Insurance Foray - Religare Enterprises, the diversified financial services company promoted by Malvinder Singh and family, is in talks with global players to foray into health insurance. Religare is in discussions with large global health insurance players such as Bluecross Blueshield Association, the United Health Group, Discovery Health, Philadelphia-based Cigna Corporation and Aetna for a possible joint venture. It is also learnt to have held discussions with Swiss Re and Munich Re, two of the largest reinsurers, for the foray. The global partner will have 26 per cent stake in the health JV. According to the Insurance Act, the JV will have to infuse a minimum of Rs 100-crore capital amount for non-life insurance companies. (Business Standard)

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