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August 20, 2009

Who will bag Gharda Chemicals?

Business Today has an article on the move to sell the Rs. 1,000 crore Gharda Chemicals, which manufactures agrochemicals, veterinary bulk drugs and high performance polymers, and the hurdles in the way of a deal. Forbes India has an interview with the firm's 80-year-old founder Keki Gharda on the same issue.

From the BT profile:
Gharda’s life story is one of such innovations that allowed him to make blockbuster chemicals in India, once they went off-patent. And he made them so cheap that often the original manufacturer was eventually forced to buy from Gharda Chemicals and supply to the world. Today, he supplies Chlorpyrifos, an insecticide, to the Dow Chemical Company, and makes a purer product than Dow ever made—even though Dow scientists had invented it. “Instead of the high-temperature chlorination of pyridine, we use a low temperature process and a pyridine derivative,” Gharda explains.

...But Gharda realises that, at 80, the greater part of his journey is done. With no children to bequeath his wealth to, Gharda now wants to give up his company to the right suitor and use the money in a foundation that will fund research, hospitals and education. And some big guns are in the race, right from Tata company Rallis, Godrej Industries, and United Phosphorus (its biggest competitor), to an Israeli firm that buys 40 per cent of Gharda’s production and private equity giant Blackstone Advisors.

...A partnership firm was formed and converted into a private limited company in 1967. Today, Gharda owns around 60 per cent of the company. He has bought out Coomi Warden, but the remaining stake is with his nephews, the sons of Jer and Rutton Kavasmaneck, friends—the Rebello family, the Patel family— and some employees. And there is the involvement of Godrej Industries, and its Chairman Adi Godrej, who lent some money to the minority shareholders in return for a pledge on 6-7 per cent of the shares. Godrej Industries refused to participate in this story as it is fighting two cases against Gharda Chemicals as well as one against the minority shareholders in the Bombay High Court.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports. Email the author at