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'New tax rattles bidders for Sesa Goa'
March, 05th 2007

Brazilian miner CVRD and mining giant Rio Tinto may pull out of the race for Mitsui's 51 percent stake in Sesa Goa as a new tax has changed its valuation, a newspaper said on Saturday.

On Wednesday, the Union budget levied a tax of Rs 300 per tonne on iron ore exports, a move that analysts say will erode 10 per cent of Sesa Goa's EBITDA margins.
 
Sesa Goa, India's top private sector iron ore exporter which owns mines in Goa, Karnataka and Orissa, said the tax would squeeze earnings and the net impact on profit would be Rs 200 per tonne.

The company's shares fell as much as 16.7 per cent on Thursday but recovered to close 7.5 per cent lower in a firm Mumbai market. On Friday, its shares rose 0.7 per cent.

Brokerage CLSA, in a note to its clients, said the export duty on iron ore could slice 24 per cent of its earnings estimates and the company's managing director, Prasun Mukherjee said on Thursday the tax would hit Sesa Goa 'very badly'.

"As a result the price multiple has changed significantly. Since these two companies, Rio Tinto and CVRD, are pure-play iron ore exporters and not manufacturers of steel, they have shown a reluctance to bid at the second stage," it quoted the source as saying.

This leaves the world's top steel producer, Arcelor Mittal, as the front-runner for the stake, according to industry experts, the paper said.

It quoted sources as saying that Arcelor Mittal was also considering selling some of its mining assets in Australia to Mitsui.

Other companies in the race are Jindal Steel and Aditya Birla group, the newspaper said.

On Wednesday, the Business Standard reported that miner Vedanta Resources Plc was also in the final round of bidding.

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