“Tata Steel is a very aggressive bidder for Essar Steel. But apart from them, interest is very thin though the asset is coast-based,” said another person close to the development.
Both JSW Steel and Tata Steel are looking to expand in the domestic market via the inorganic route, and have set targets in terms of capacity expansion and increase of market share. Calls made to JSW Steel went unanswered, while an e-mail sent to Tata Steel remained unanswered till the time of going to print.
Persons close to the development also said that since the 6.8-million tonne sponge iron capacity of Essar Steel is gas-based, interest from domestic as well as overseas parties is thin.
The company, which had a debt of Rs 37,284 crore till March 2016, had earlier taken its lenders State Bank of India and Standard Chartered Bank, the Reserve Bank of India and the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to the Gujarat High Court, opposing insolvency.
Essar Steel has a 10-million tonne facility in Hazira, Gujarat. The debt-laden company is in the high-margin flat steel products business. Since there is a demand for flat steel in the domestic as well as export market, sales volumes of the company are seen as a positive for a new buyer even during the usual lean season between July and September.
In terms of market share, Essar Steel has a strong presence in the western and northern parts of the country. The National Steel Policy 2017 aims to increase domestic production of steel to 300 million tonnes by 2030. Given the thrust on increasing domestic steel production and estimates of a rise in demand, NCLT-listed firms are attractive purchases at this juncture where setting up greenfield capacities could mean unending approvals.
The NCLT has begun processing cases involving other steel companies
like Bhushan Steel and Electrosteel Steels. The three steel companies
have a total installed capacity of 18.11 million tonnes.
Delhi-based Bhushan Steel, the third-largest secondary producer in the country, has a capacity of 5.6 million tonnes and is located in iron ore-rich Odisha. Electrosteel Steels, according to its FY13 annual report, was setting up a 2.51-million tonne greenfield integrated steel plant in Jharkhand. Monnet Ispat, another firm facing insolvency proceedings, has a 1.5-million tonne capacity.