India's Mahindra & Mahindra eyes global stage, races for Aston Martin

Nov 29 2012, 13:02 IST
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SummarySports car maker Aston Martin may look like a shiny trophy that makes an awkward fit for Anand Mahindra-led Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M)...

if you are just an Indian carmaker who also owns Ssangyong," said Deepesh Rathore, managing director for India at IHS Automotive.

Investment Dar wants to sell Aston for at least what it paid plus commitment of subsequent equity injection, or $1.1 billion for the whole company, Bernstein Research wrote in a Nov. 14 report, citing industry sources and calling that price high.


With his neat moustache, perfectly-coiffed hair and elegant suits, the company's film-buff chairman with a Harvard MBA looks like he could play a CEO in a movie.

Unlike the chieftains of some of India's more insular family conglomerates, the outgoing Anand Mahindra is active on Twitter and is a regular at the World Economic Forum in Davos, a meeting place of business czars and government leaders.

As a dealmaker, he eschews drama, avoiding costly bidding wars and mostly sticking to deals that cost less than $1 billion and don't require heavy debt.

In 2008, he walked away from bidding for luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover. Indian rival Tata Motors ended up paying $2.3 billion in a deal that looked expensive at the time but has proven to be a blockbuster success.

"Anand doesn't go by emotion or ego in these matters," said an M&A banker with a foreign bank in Mumbai.

Even as the company vies for Aston Martin, it is eyeing a couple of smaller European auto component makers that are on the block due to mounting losses, said another source.

"They don't go after deals proactively and end up overpaying, and would rather wait for the stressed assets to come to the market," the banker said.

"The are focused on building a little empire of prized assets instead of shock-and-awe kind of deals."

In 2009, its Tech Mahindra software arm bought Satyam Computer Services, which was brought to its knees by its founder's dramatic confession of accounting fraud, for about $350 million. Tech Mahindra stanched the bleeding at Satyam and the deal has put it into the top five of Indian IT outsourcers.

Earlier this year Mahindra was interested in buying at least part of Swedish carmaker Saab Automobile, later bought by a consortium, sources said. It was also reported to be eyeing bankrupt U.S. aerospace manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft.

"They are very portfolio-centric, opportunistic, in their M&A strategy. They believe in zeroing into a stressed situation and cleaning the mess quickly so that you can capture the value," said the investment banking head with a European

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