Thursday, July 25, 2024

Indian group weighs asset sales to raise about $2 billion

Shapoorji Pallonji Group, controlled by billionaire Shapoor Mistry, is weighing asset sales including a controlling stake in its flagship engineering firm that could raise about $2 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company is working with an adviser to seek buyer for its holdings in Afcons Infrastructure Ltd., a Mumbai-based infrastructure construction company, the people said. SP Group is also looking to sell some ports, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. Gopalpur Port on the east coast of India could be among assets that SP Group is looking to sell, one of the people said.

Considerations are at an early stage and SP Group can decide to keep the assets for longer, the people said. A representative for SP Group didn’t provide any immediate comment.

Founded in 1865, SP Group built luxury hotels, stadiums, palaces and factories across Asia, including the Reserve Bank of India building and the heritage Tower Wing of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai. Afcons specializes in engineering and construction including marine infrastructure, tunnels, bridges and roads, according to its website. It has projects in more than 25 countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The Mistry family lost two of its key members within a span of three months last year. Pallonji Mistry, Shapoor’s father and the founder of SP Group, died at 93 in late June. Cyrus Mistry, Shapoor’s younger brother, was killed in a car accident in early September. Most of the family’s $29 billion wealth is derived from an about 18% stake in Tata Sons Pvt., the main holding company of India’s diversified conglomerate Tata Group, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. However, their Tata Sons stake, equivalent to about 90% of the family’s fortune, is locked up in a festering feud with Tata Group.

Shapoor Mistry has been seeking ways to free up cash as rising interest rates rattle the SP Group. Last year, SP Group sold water purifier equipment maker Eureka Forbes Ltd. to Advent International in a 44 billion rupees ($536 million) deal and it also divested Sterling and Wilson Renewable Energy Ltd. to Reliance Industries Ltd. Following the sales, the company repaid $1.5 billion to lenders and exited a debt recast program.

SP Group is in talks to raise $1.75 billion by pledging the remaining half of its stake in Tata Sons, Economic Times reported last week, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the matter. The company is looking to use the funds to repay obligations and infuse cash into operating companies, the report said.

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