Purnendu Chatterjee is aiming big once again. This time it’s Europe. The Haldia Petrochemicals co-promoter is making a bid for Dutch petrochemicals giant Basel Polyolefins in consortium with leading Indian private equity fund ICICI Ventures and a host of US-based investors. The 4 billion euro (estimated at over Rs 22,000 crore) bid, would clearly be the largest one ever originating from Indian shores till date. The consortium aims to buy 100 per cent of the Dutch firm, whose current owners Royal Dutch/ Shell Group and German major BASF AG would be exiting the business to focus on their core operations. Chatterjee, the forward-looking tycoon, is clearly targeting the acquisition of the leading technologies that this 5.7 billion euro major owns in the field of polyolefins. However, in view of the deal’s big size, Purnendu and ICICI would only be picking minority stakes in the company, leaving the majority for the yet unidentified US-based funds. The tycoon’s ambitious bid, if pulled through, would certainly dwarf the mega acquisitions concluded by Indian companies recently, be it the $1.7 billion that ONGC Videsh paid for the 20 per cent stake in the Shakhalin oilfield or for that matter Tata’s $300 million deal for Tetley or Tata Steel’s $280-290 million deal for Singapore’s Nat Steel.
Dining at the pumps
Retail outlets at petrol pumps are commonplace today with many petro marketers having started their own FMCG retail chains. For a change, a normally reluctant restaurateur has sensed an opportunity for business at these high consumer traffic points, much to the delight of food lovers. The Nirula brothers, India’s homespun quick-food specialists, have entered into a strategic alliance with leading petro-retailer Indian Oil Corporation to set up restaurants at its outlets. In the first phase, the restaurateur is expected to limit its foray to its ‘bread and butter’ format — the family style restaurants. The first outlet is likely to come up at an IOC outlet in Delhi. Limiting the first phase of expansion to its stronghold Delhi appears deliberate. Isn’t it always better to taste a new biz idea in your home turf? In the second phase, however, the company would be looking at IOC outlets located on the highways leading to the national capital. But Nirula’s innovation may not remain limited to the restaurant version of the business in the days to come. It would certainly consider other business formats. Picking up a tube of toothpaste or the normal daily groceries at a petrol pump is no longer a novel experience. Planning a family dinner at an Indian pump would certainly be!
Reddy’s best on its way
K. Anji Reddy has acquired a drug for the home market like no other. The tycoon will soon start the trials of this drug, that has the wonderful power of protecting cancer patients against the side-effects of radiation therapy. For this, a generous amount of Rs 2 crore has been kept aside. This drug was incidentally developed by two institutes of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) — one in Gwalior and the other in New Delhi — from where the technology has been transferred to the tycoon’s labs in exchange for Rs 25 lakh and a royalty of 5 per cent. The drug ensures that only cancer cells are destroyed and protects normal ones. Thus undesirable side-effects like nausea, hair-loss, loss of appetite etc does not occur. While the world of cancer therapy is waiting to rock with Reddy’s drug, wonder what the tycoon will bring out next.