MUMBAI, May 8 (TOI): Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals (MRPL), majority owned by state-owned ONGC, has expressed interest to acquire promoter's stake in Mangalore Chemicals & Fertilizers (MCF), said a source directly involved with the matter.
Liquor baron Vijay Mallya's UB Group holds little over 30% stake in MCF, a non-core investment that may be sold to fund its bleeding Kingfisher Airlines. MRPL managing director Uttam Kumar Basu has written a letter to Mallya last month expressing interest to takeover MCF and seeking permission to start a due diligence. U K Basu declined to offer any comments while ONGC chairman Sudhir Vasudeva, who is in Kuwait to attend an international oil and gas conference, could not be immediately reached for his comments.
Recent media reports said Zuari Industries and Chambal Chemicals & Fertilizers have evinced interest to buy Mallya's fertilizer unit. The ONGC subsidiary finds MCF a strategic fit, which is in close vicinity and the refinery by-products naphtha and fuel oil may be used as feed stock to operate the fertilizer plant.
MRPL MD U K Basu term is coming to an end in June and MRPL director technical P P Upadhya is likely to take over new MD from July. "Yes, MRPL is interested in that asset but it's too premature to comment anything at this point of time," said the source briefed about the matter, adding that we are yet to hear anything from UB group. MCF shares closed at Rs 40, valuing the firm close to Rs 500 crore. But the deal is likely to be done at a premium considering the over 200 acres land bank of the company can be used for further expansion.
"I don't think UB Group is interested in keeping this fertilizer business under its fold and it would be a good move if they sell it to MRPL because of the synergies it draws. With this sale, UB Group will get some breathing space as it struggles to keep afloat the debt laden kingfisher airlines," said investment advisor S P Tulsian.