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Suez Lyonnaise told to make open offer for Ondeo Nalco

Our Bureau

KOLKATA, April 10

THE Securities and Exchange Board of India Chairman, Mr G.N. Bajpai, has ordered French water treatment and chemicals major, Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux — acquirer of controlling interest in the Ondeo Nalco India Ltd — to make public announcement for an open offer for 20 per cent of its stake under the takeover regulations.

As per the order, which became effective from Thursday, the announcement is to be made within 45 days. Further, the acquirer has been asked to treat April 9, 1999, as the reference date for calculation of the open offer price.

As per the takeover norms, considering the average of the highs and lows of the Nalco scrip in BSE for the specific 26 weeks for calculating the open offer in terms of the reference date works out to Rs 380, the price which may be fixed for the open offer.

The market regulator has also directed the acquirer to pay a 15 interest per annum on the offer price from August 8, 1999, (when the entire offer process should be completed under the SEBI regulation) till the actual date of payment.

Earlier, SEBI had issued notice to the French MNC over an alleged violation of the takeover norms for the latter's acquisition of the controlling stake in the Indian company — Ondeo Nalco India Ltd (formerly Nalco Chemicals India Ltd).

By virtue of the acquisition of Nalco Chemicals US (Ondeo Nalco's erstwhile parent) in 1999, 80 per cent of Ondeo Nalco India's holding passed on to Suez. The remaining 20 per cent (10 lakh shares of Rs 10 each) is held by individual shareholders. According to the company records, as on July 1, 2002, out of the 10 lakh shares, over 8.1 lakh shares are held by leading Mumbai-based stock broker Mr Nimesh Shah and his family members as also a family-controlled company (including an employee of an associate company). A section of the shareholders moved SEBI in August for alleged takeover code violation.

The equity capital of Ondeo Nalco India is Rs 5 crore. The shareholding pattern is as follows: Ondeo Nalco Company (of US) — 80 cent of the paid-up capital; private corporate bodies 5.66 per cent; Indian public 14.11 per cent and NRI/ OCBs 0.24 per cent.

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