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India in race to snap up coal assets

June 7, 2011

“From the mining belts of Queensland, Australia, to East Kalimantan in Indonesia, Indian companies are racing to secure coal assets across the globe. Last year, Indian companies overtook those from China, Korea and Japan as the biggest Asian buyers of overseas coal assets. They were following their US counterparts in trying either to increase their exposure to coal at a time of high commodity prices or lock in fuel supplies for industries such as steelmaking.

Unable to guarantee access to supplies at home because of a mixture of bureaucracy, corruption, logistical and environmental issues, many Indian groups have been aggressively trying to buy assets in Indonesia and Australia. India signed $2.4bn of deals out of a global total of $16bn last year, according to Wood Mackenzie, the consultancy. Meanwhile, Indonesia’s coal association has said it expects India to surpass Japan as the leading buyer of the country’s coal.”

Source: Financial Times, June 6 2011

Observations:

  • According to Ernst & Young’s analysis of M&A in the mining industry over 2010 India has risen to the 7th place worldwide with $5.5bln overall acquisitions in the industry. A large part of India’s acquisitions are aimed at coal mines and transportation infrastructure.
  • Most Indian acquirers of coal assets are private utility-linked companies, which are mainly interested in thermal or energy coal assets.

Implications:

  • The gold-rush mentality of many new players and the resulting high premiums paid for coal assets will help the industry in India consolidate, as the more sophisticated players will soon outperform the players that pay too much for access to resources.
  • The Indian government is trying to mobilize state controlled companies to participate in the bidding for overseas coal assets. The creation of the ICVL consortium and the IPO of Coal India are aimed to create more coordination in government efforts.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

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