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BW Businessworld

Vedanta Merges Sterlite with Sesa Goa, Sees Cost Savings

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Vedanta Resources will simplify its business structure by merging its Indian subsidiaries into a single unit to cut costs and improve cashflows, the London-listed miner said, as it looks to streamline a structure that has hurt its market valuations.

Vedanta said, as a first step, it will merge non-ferrous metals producer Sterlite Industries into sister concern and iron ore miner Sesa Goa. The boards of the companies have approved issue of three shares of Sesa Goa for every five shares held in Sterlite, it said on Saturday.

Its unlisted unit Vedanta Aluminium along with Madras Aluminium Co and Vedanta's 38.8 per cent holding in oil and gas producer Cairn India will also be transferred to the merged company, to be named Sesa Sterlite.

Post the share transfer, Sesa Sterlite would be listed in India and also list American Depositary Shares in New York.

"This transaction is a natural evolution, leading to simplification of the Group's structure," Vedanta Chairman Anil Agarwal said in a statement.

"Sesa Sterlite will be the principal operating company in the group... and is well placed to create value for all shareholders."

FTSE-100 miner Vedanta, which has underperformed the sector by more than 25 per cent since the start of last year, has over a dozen units, none fully owned and several separately listed, producing oil to aluminium and copper to zinc.

The consolidation is expected to lead to significant synergies, including economies of scale, more efficient movement of group cash, improved allocation of capital and corporate cost savings including tax efficiencies, Vedanta said.

Vedanta, which will own 58.3 per cent in Sesa Sterlite post-restructuring, expects cost savings of $200 million a year. It now controls about 55 per cent each in Sterlite Industries and Sesa Goa.

Ahead of the announcement, shares in Sterlite, valued at $7.9 billion, closed 3.1 per cent higher in a weak Mumbai market on Friday. Shares in Sesa, valued at $4 billion, closed down 0.2 per cent. Vedanta shares closed up 4.5 per cent in London trading.