Vedanta today said it will fork out the right price, arrived at a “transparent process”, for buying out government’s residual stake in Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL) and Bharat Aluminium Company (Balco).

“Whatever is fair…I am looking at the process…we are not looking at negotiating anything. Whatever is the right price, (there is a) process to be adopted,” Vedanta Chairman, Anil Agarwal said here.

“We know this is the process, transparent process and whatever is the price, that’s the price,” he said when asked whether Vedanta would sweeten the offer from what it had made in January.

The government, which currently holds 29.5 per cent stake in HZL and 49 per cent stake in Balco, is looking at exiting from the two firms in which majority stakes were sold to the mining giant during 2001-2003.

However, valuations remain the holding block for making the deal through.

In January, Vedanta Resources had offered Rs 17,275 crore for government’s remaining stakes in HZL and Balco. But, that did not break the ice.

Subsequently, its Board got shareholders’ nod to sweeten the offer by up to 25 per cent in the two firms. Last month, the company said it is still waiting to get a response from the government on its January offer.

Mines ministry, meanwhile, suggested two-three options for conducting proper valuation of the two erstwhile PSUs.

“They (the government) have asked us...they have been talking to us and are very keen. I believe some decision will come. We are also little nervous... We will work with government,” Agarwal said.

At present, Hindustan Zinc is the richest profit-making subsidiary of Vedanta with a cash and cash equivalent of Rs 19,136 crore as on September, 2012. The company had reported a net profit of Rs 5,526 crore and net revenues of 11,405 crore in 2011-12.

On the other hand, Balco is an unlisted subsidiary of Vedanta and its valuation has been a bone of contention between the mining firm and the government.

(This article was published on November 27, 2012)
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