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Reliance raises $577m, eyes M&A

By Reuters

Reliance Industries raised $577 million (Dh2.11 billion) through a share sale, the second big equity fund raising in under four months for India's largest-listed company as it looks to buy bankrupt petrochemicals firm LyondellBasell.

Reliance, controlled by India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, sold 25 million existing treasury shares at a five per cent discount to Thursday's market close to state-run Life Insurance Corp of India, two sources with knowledge of the transaction said.

The deal follows a $660 million share sale by conglomerate Reliance in September. Both deals are seen as part of energy major Reliance's bid to take control of Luxembourg-based LyondellBasell, a deal insiders say could be worth as much as $12bn.

"Reliance's major agenda is to become a leading player in the international domain," said Alex Mathews, head of research at Geojit BNP-Paribas Financial Services.

"The funds could be used to make a war chest for global acquisitions," he said.

Citing bankers, Reuters Basis Point reported in December that Reliance is in preliminary talks with banks for a loan of up to $10bn to back its bid for LyondellBasell.

Reliance has interests in petrochemicals, refining, oil and gas exploration and retail, and a deal with Lyondell would catapult it into the ranks of top petrochemical makers such as Saudi Arabia's Sabic, Germany's BASF and US-based Dow Chemical Co.

Acquiring LyondellBasell would also give Reliance a leg up in its efforts to gain greater access to the US and European markets. Its bid comes as petrochemical and refining asset prices have fallen globally in the wake of the financial crisis. The latest share sale was priced at Rs1,035 each, or five per cent below Reliance's closing price on Thursday.


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