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Bhel drafts aggressive M&A strategy
December, 14th 2009

After its setback in the global acquisition race in the last few years, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (Bhel) has once again set off on the road to acquire firms overseas. This time, the company is armed with a long-term focus on the M&A space by initiating the process of appointing a panel of advisors for an initial phase of two years.

By appointing a long-term panel of advisors, the company seeks to avoid any delay in bidding for an M&A target. Bhel is also trying to get enough time for the due diligence process in order to present a proper bid for the target firm. The move is a first in the countrys public sector. Till now, every public sector enterprise (PSE) appoints advisors as and when an opportunity for an M&A comes up.

It takes a long time to plan mergers and acquisitions as being a public sector firm, we are expected to carry out the entire process through a transparent mechanism of floating tenders. If we appoint advisors for a long term, they will look out for viable opportunities all the time and will quickly inform us. The consultants will also conduct due diligence before making a bid, Bhel executive director S T H Rizvi told FE.

Earlier this year, the company failed in acquiring Czech power plant equipment-maker Skoda Power because its bid was around 10% lower than Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction, which finally bought the firm. We pursued Skoda Power for a year, but the final bid was lower by around 10% of the winning bid, Rizvi said. Bhel has also been looking at Romanian and Chinese companies.

Bhel is looking at M&As to acquire updated manufacturing technology and global market access. We have enough manufacturing facilities to meet the present and future orders. What we want is better technology and markets. At present, we are working with foreign firms like Siemens for technology, but the non-compete clause does not allow us the market access. Now, we will hopefully get the technology and market access through M&As, another official of the company said on the condition of anonymity.

The company has floated a tender for appointing advisors in the field of finance, accounts, tax and law. As per the qualification conditions set by Bhel, the advisors should have experience of advising Indian firms on M&As for at least preceding three financial years, the Indian arm of the company should have successfully completed at least three cross border M&A deals of at least $50 million each in the last three fiscals and the company should have an independent presence in India, Europe and North America. The last date of submitting the proposals is December 21, 2009 and the bids will be opened on the same day.

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