Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, said on Wednesday he still wished he had been able to acquire Holcim’s Indian assets and said the price was simply too high.
In a conversation with CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan in Davos, Birla called the valuation of the Holcim deal, at more than $10 billion, expensive. The Adani Group has signed an agreement to buy the assets of Holcim.
“It would have been nice to have it, but you know, at a (reasonable) price. I think if you have other options where you can build assets at much lower costs, that would obviously be a preferred bet,” Birla said.
He explained that it was a question of price, and nothing else. “There was a problem with CCI, but it is something we understand well, and we could have submitted a plan to pass this scheme,” he said, adding: “We should have sold assets , if I remember correctly, but I think basically it came down to the price.
Birla, however, said the group would continue to look for the right opportunities to expand its cement business. “It’s all about evaluation, in the end. We are looking at growth options. It comes down to what creates more value for us,” he said.
Foray into paintings
Birla revealed what he called “ambitious plans” for his group to corner the paints market, with an initial investment of Rs 10,000 crore.
“When we announced our foray into paints, we said we had a natural right to win – when I say win, I don’t mean against Asian Paints. I have a lot of respect for this company. But what I’m saying is that we have a great reason for being in the business, which is that we have an overlapping cement and white cement distribution network. We have very ambitious plans, we hope to start manufacturing and be on the market in the first half of calendar year 2024. We have every reason to believe that we will be a very good number two in the next five years,” he said. .
On Vodafone Idea, Birla said now is the time to get outside capital into the business. He also talked about potential new investments and said he was considering fintech, edtech and other new era businesses.
On India’s growth story, Birla said, “India actually stands out because we are going to be the fastest growing economy in the world, 7.50 to 8% or whatever. whether it be. I think that’s clearly recognized by people here. So it was good. I think the government is doing a lot of things to contain inflation,” he added.
“My view of India is very, very optimistic. I see you have two engines of growth – traditional companies like us and new startups. You also have a situation where companies have cleaned up a lot of them , and you have banks cleaning up their books. Such a good combination and extremely powerful growth time,” Birla added.
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First post: STI