Nirma Group has signed a binding agreement to acquire the cement business of diversified conglomerate Emami Group for an enterprise value of Rs 5,500 crore (about $770 million).
“This transaction is an important step in our group’s stated objective of becoming debt-free and with this transaction we will substantially achieve this objective,” Manish Goenka, director at Emami Group, said in a statement.
Ahmedabad-based Nirma is acquiring Emami Cement Ltd through group company Nuvoco Vistas Corporation Ltd.
Emami Cement operates one integrated cement plant and three grinding units with a total cement grinding capacity of 8.3 million tonnes a year. Nirmal has a cement capacity of 14 million tonnes, bulk of which it had acquired from LafargeHolcim in 2016 for $1.4 billion.
The transaction is subject to customary approvals including from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and is expected to be consummated in the next three to four months.
Law firm Khaitan & Co advised Nuvoco Vistas and Nirma group on the transaction.
The announcement ends speculation on who would finally by the cement business of Emami as other cement makers such as UltraTech, Star Cement and Ambuja were also reportedly in the race.
Nirma's winning bid is also reminiscent of how it had trumped companies such as the Piramal Group and JSW Group and a couple of foreign companies and private equity firms to clinch the deal to buy Lafarge India in 2016.
Ahmedabad-based Nirma is best known for making soaps and detergents, though it also makes industrial goods such as soda ash, cement and packaging products. Founded by Karsanbhai Patel, Nirma has 12 manufacturing facilities in India and the US.
The Emami Group was founded in 1974 by RS Agarwal and RS Goenka. It owns businesses in diverse sectors ranging from FMCG and personal care to healthcare, cement, newsprint and paperboard, biodiesel and edible oil, real estate, solar power, writing instruments, and pharmacy retail.
It has been working on divesting stakes in non-core assets to pare its debt.
In June last year, Emami Ltd's promoters offloaded a 10% stake in the fast-moving consumer goods maker in the second such sale within five months. News of this stake sale came around four months after the promoters sold 10% of Emami to a clutch of investors including PremjiInvest, the family office of Wipro chairman Azim Premji, and non-banking financial company IDFC in February.
Emami Ltd is the group’s flagship business. Some of the personal care and healthcare brands under its umbrella include Zandu pain balm, BoroPlus antiseptic cream, and Navratna hair oil.
In December last year, VCCircle reported that Emami Group started a process to sell its pharmacy chain and hired an investment bank. VCCircle also reported last year that AMRI Hospitals Ltd, the group’s healthcare vertical, had reached an advanced stage of discussion to sell its hospital in Bhubaneshwar.