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Why India Inc is on an M&A spree, preferring inorganic growth to investing in fresh projects and capacities
May, 15th 2017

VS Parthasarathy, group chief financial officer of auto and farm equipment maker Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), recalls a conversation with a supplier a few years back that was one of the inspirations behind MSquare Alliance, an online portal to help small and medium enterprises make acquisitions. It was just after M&M had pulled off an overseas buyout and the supplier let on that he too was pursuing an inorganic strategy for growth.

MSquare Alliance is a forum for the Mahindra ecosystem that helps smaller companies conclude deals by providing them with support services. M&M has a threemember team managing the service, which is free for Mahindra’s dealers and suppliers, and is available for a fee for any other company. Operational since 2013, the service, says Parthasarathy, has picked up pace in the last year. “There is a tsunami of M&A happening below the radar,” Parthasarathy told ET Magazine. “There are people who you and I do not get to meet, who are striking deals for growth.”

Two big deals in the past eight-nine months didn’t, however, escape the radar — both from the Aditya Birla Group. In August 2016, the conglomerate announced the merger of Grasim and Aditya Birla Nuvo, creating a Rs 60,000 crore behemoth. The deal got shareholder approval in April 2017. In between, in March, a $27 billion merger of Idea Cellular and Vodafone India was announced, which will create the largest Indian telecom company. Neither was technically a takeover or a buyout, but Sushil Agarwal, Aditya Birla Group CFO, insists that both transactions were done with an eye on growth. The Grasim-Nuvo merger was designed to provide Nuvo’s growth business, the financial services subsidiary, “a stronger parentage” of Grasim’s balance sheet. The Idea-Vodafone deal, too, sacrificed control — Vodafone will hold 45.1% of the merged entity and the Aditya Birla group 26% — and prepped it up for growth and competition, namely Relian Jio.

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