To do more jumbo deals in a tougher world, Indian firms need to tackle a glaring area of weakness. This is their complex structures, which mean cash flows are spread thinly, and their dislike of issuing equity for fear of diluting their controlling shareholders. Both factors combined make it hard to marshal resources without resorting to risky levels of debt. India’s second-biggest group, Reliance Industries, scores well on the first count, and has the financial firepower to spend perhaps $15 billion safely. But few others do. On February 25th Vedanta, a London-listed natural-resource firm with assets mainly in India, launched an operation to merge its domestic units and clear up a sprawling empire. More firms need to do the same.
That’s the conclusion of Running with the bulls: Are Indian firms really going to take over the world?, The Economist, 3/3/2012. Although they’ve gotten a lot of press, India’s share of global cross-border deals by value has been relatively small, about the same as buyers from Brazil and Russia, well China. Moving away from holding chains with dominant shareonwers may hold a key to enabling more promising acquisitions.