THE Tata group would be looking at acquiring iron ore asset overseas. According to group chairman Ratan Tata, ore acquisitions are part of a larger strategy to make both Corus and Tata Steel sustainable in terms of raw materials.
“Having security of raw materials and supply is an essential part of the well-being of this enterprise (Tata Corus),” Mr Tata said. “There are very large consuming countries such as China because of which there’s a raw materials scarcity which has to be met for companies to be sustainable. So, yes, we are looking at that.”
Mr Tata was in IJmuiden (Netherlands) to open a new technology centre for Corus. The Anglo-Dutch company which the Tata group bought earlier this year derives 16% of its businesses from the automotive sector.
But its expertise may not be used in the Tata Motors Rs 1 lakh car project. Asked if the Tata group would use Corus auto expertise for the Rs 1 lakh car, Mr Tata said: “One should separate the Rs 1 lakh car out...we are looking at sophistication of steel which for lower end products may not be a given.”
When asked about the Jaguar-Land Rover deal, Mr Tata refused to comment. “The process that is underway is now reasonably private,” he said. It’s often believed that England has no auto industry left. But that is not true. The UK has tremendous automotive technology and we are building a technology centre for the auto industry in the Coventry area. We want a greater automotive presence in the UK.”
The Tata group will use the Coventry centre as a pan group technology centre, Mr Tata added. This will be apart from it’s current automotive centre which is in partnership with Warwick University and is a Corus-specific centre.
Speaking about his group’s acquisition appetite, he said: “Because of the size and scale of the Corus deal, we seem to be cast as a group on an acquisition spree, which is not the case. We would be interested in an acquisition only if there is a product gap that it can fill, there is a strategic fit, or a particular geographical presence that it offers.”
When compared with LN Mittal, Mr Tata said he had tremendous respect for Mr Mittal, but “I don’t think scale or size is what we are aspiring for. We would just like to be a respectable-size player in the global market.”
He said in India, Tata Steel was looking more at organic rather than acquisition-led growth. “We have been looking at three greenfield sites in India and these are the same states that Laxmi Mittal and Posco are also interested in because they are rich in iron ore,”Mr Tata said. For Corus, he said: “In an integrated sense, this organic growth would mean access to iron ore and hopefully lower cost intermediates.” As for the Corus deal, Mr Tata said, his view had not changed. “In the last few days we were bidding up against a competitor though we had our own internal limits which we did not cross. I believe we can generate synergies—these can be putting practices together, could be access to lower cost raw materials and intermediates, could be access to markets and a broader product mix.” The deal, he said, helped make Tata Steel a global player from being just a 5 million-tonne company limited to India.
As for the current credit concerns, they will not affect financing the deal. “There are some issues because of the interest rates being what they are but we are well on our way to financing the deal,” Tata Steel MD B Muthuraman said.
The Corus acquisition, he said, will generate $400 million in synergy savings in three years. “We have identified particular items and onethird of them will be on stream every year so that at the end of three years we will have $400 million,” he said