Piramal Enterprises invests $7M in Israel’s unmanned aerial systems maker
Bluebird Aero Systems Ltd

Piramal Enterprises Ltd, till recently known as Piramal Healthcare, is quickly expanding its business interests outside the healthcare and pharmaceutical space. The flagship of Ajay Piramal-led group has picked up 27.83 per cent stake in Bluebird Aero Systems Ltd, an Israel-based unmanned air systems manufacturer, for $7 million or Rs 38.47 crore.

The investment from Piramal would value Bluebird (which may bid for contracts in India) at a little over $25 million or Rs 138 crore.

The investment was disclosed by Piramal Enterprises in its quarterly results on Tuesday. The company has been looking at new business segments since the sale of its domestic formulations business to Abbott Laboratories for $3.7 billion in 2010.

Last year, Piramal Enterprises got shareholders’ approval to invest across seven different sectors – financial services, insurance, security systems & technology, infrastructure and real estate development, engineering including EPC, information technology and packaging business.

Shares of the firm closed at Rs 529.7 a unit on Tuesday, down 1.91 per cent in a Mumbai market up 0.54 per cent.

Set up by former officers and engineers of Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Bluebird is involved in the design, development and production of tactical unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and peripheral equipment. Its products are used by the military, homeland security and civilian institutions. Bluebird also has an agreement with Bangalore’s Dynamatic Technologies Ltd for the manufacturing, assembly and marketing of mini and micro tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in India.

According to earlier media reports, the group has set up Piramal Systems and Technologies and is in talks to acquire Global Technical Systems, a US-based surveillance technology developer.

Piramal Enterprises has also increased its shareholding in Indiareit Investment Management Company and Oxygen Bio Research Pvt Ltd.

It has picked up the remaining 6 per cent stake in Indiareit, which manages offshore real estate funds focused on India, for Rs 6.9 crore. The deal makes Indiareit a wholly owned subsidiary of Piramal Enterprises.

Last year, Piramal Enterprises had approved the acquisition of the group’s real estate fund management business which consisted of two entities – Indiareit Fund Advisors Pvt Ltd and Indiareit Investment Management Company. Indiareit Fund Advisors was acquired for Rs 110 crore while Indiareit Investment Management was to be acquired for Rs 115 crore.

Additionally, Piramal has also increased its stake in Oxygen Bio Research from 14 per cent to 90 per cent for Rs 19.2 crore. Oxygen Bio Research is a discovery services specialist based in Cambridge Science Park in the UK and with a research centre in Ahmedabad. Piramal had initially paid Rs 51.29 crore ($11.3 million) in February 2011 for 76 per cent stake in the company.

In order to deploy the cash pile from the sale of domestic formulations business, Piramal Enterprises has already forayed into the financial services space. To park some of the capital, it has also picked up 11 per cent stake in Vodafone India Ltd, the second largest telecom firm in the country by revenues.

While Piramal Enterprises has done a couple of other small acquisitions since 2010, its largest acquisition came in May this year when it bought US-based database and consulting services provider Decision Resources Group (DRG) for Rs 3,400 crore ($635 million).

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)

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