The end of the bull market has provided a fillip to atleast one segment of deal activity. There has been a 36% jump in the number of take-overs of public listed firms in the first half of this financial

year. This is apparent in the number of open offers which were made during the April-September'08 period.

Open offers are made by an existing or a new investor, to acquire equity shares from the existing shareholders of a public listed firm at a specified price. It is triggered when an investor crosses 15% holding mark in a listed company. The acquirer has to make a mandatory offer to purchase a minimum of another 20% stake from minority shareholders.

There has been 45 open offers which were made and completed between April-September due to change in control of the company as against 33 such offers in the same period last year, according to data available with market regulator SEBI. Some of these open offers would have a

spill over effect, which means the actual takeover would have taken place or announced in the previous year but the offer is made this year after regulatory approvals. However, this should not be significant to swing the overall numbers.

The total number of open offers have actually increased by 20% to 60 from 51 last year. Infact, this is the highest number of open offers ever made in the first half of any financial year in India. If we consider data till mid October, there are another nine open offers out of which eight are due to take-over of a listed firm.

Open offers can be made for three reasons: change in control of management of the listed firm, consolidation of holdings and substantial acquisition of shares by the existing investors including


The prominent firms for whom open offers were made this year as a result of acquisition include: Infomedia(by TV 18), Thomas Cook India(Thomas Cook UK), Sparsh BPO(Intelenet management backed by Blackstone), Dabur Pharma(Fresenius Kabi), Aztecsoft(Mindtree), Ranbaxy(Daiichi Sankyo) and IL&FS Investsmart(HSBC).

What is notable is that the number of such open offers have increased even as overall M&A activity has slowed down in the country after the global market crash in January.

Some other open offers were those made by Roys for NDTV to consolidate their holdings, BOC and BASF where the multinational parent made the offer to hike stake in the Indian arm.

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