Essar Energy independent committee snubs Ruia buyout offer again

April 11 Fri Apr 11, 2014 8:33am EDT

April 11 (Reuters) - A buyout offer from India's billionaire Ruia family for Essar Energy Plc "materially undervalued" the company and its prospects, an independent committee set up to examine the offer said for a third time.

Essar Global Fund Ltd (EGFL), which owns about 78 percent of the resources company, on Friday stuck to its offer of 70 pence per share made on March 14, which was immediately slammed by the committee at the time.

Essar Energy shares were about 2 percent at 66.65 pence at 1223 GMT on the London Stock Exchange on Friday.

EGFL, in which brothers Shashi and Ravi Ruia are beneficiaries, said on Friday that Essar Energy's shareholders and bondholders had till May 9 to accept the offer.

The offer would become unconditional if 90 percent of shares outstanding are tendered in its favour. However, EGFL can change the acceptance level at its discretion.

The independent committee on Friday urged shareholders to take no action in relation to the offer and said it would make its views clear by no later than April 25.

Essar Energy owns a series of power and oil assets in India and also operates UK's second-biggest oil refinery, Stanlow, in northwest England.

Since it listed in London nearly four years ago, the company has faced a string of problems, including slow growth in its Indian operations, delays in getting coal licences, a tough tax regime in India and a fall in margins at Stanlow.

The problems have eroded Essar Energy stock's value significantly from its listing price of 420 pence in 2010.

EGFL, which made the offer through its subsidiary Energy Bidco Holdings Ltd, had also proposed to acquire the Essar Energy-guaranteed 4.25 percent convertible bonds due 2016.

Ravi Ruia also sits on Essar Energy's board along with his nephew Prashant Ruia. Brothers Shashi and Ravi, whose interests span energy, telecoms, steel and shipping, had a combined net worth of about $4.9 billion as of March, according to Forbes.

Two of the London-listed company's minority shareholders, Standard Life and Henderson Global, have previously called EGFL's offer opportunistic.

Essar Energy's independent committee is being advised by Greenhill and JPMorgan Cazenove. (Reporting by Karen Rebelo in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D'Souza)