18 June, 2021

Mines Ahoy!

State-owned firms, rather than private ones, will drive India’s quest for mining security. Overseas acquisitions by PSU giants will become the norm in the near future.

Mines Ahoy!

The year 2017 was seminal for integrated mines-to-metals Indian entrepreneurs. It was then that two Indian businessmen executed two daring, ambitious, and audacious, global takeovers. Kumar Mangalam Birla’s Hindalco acquired the US-based Novelis for $6 billion, and emerged as a world’s leading integrated aluminium player. Ratan Tata’s Tata Steel was involved in a bigger takeover; it paid over $12 billion for Corus Steel.

Both the moves triggered a wave of global M&As by Indian miners. Vedanta Resources’ Anil Agarwal, Jindal Group, and Gautam Adani of Adani Enterprises willingly became major players in the ongoing international acquisition game. State-owned miners like Coal India, NALCO, and others got on to the bandwagon. In the mining and metals sector, these private and public sector groups emerged as the new Indian MNCs.

However, the spree faltered over the next few years. The reasons were several. In some cases, the Indian firms overpaid and over-borrowed. In others, geological and geopolitical conditions went against them. Local...

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