NYSE-listed SunCoke Energy Inc, the largest independent producer of metallurgical coke in the Americas, has entered India by picking up a 49% stake in Visa Coke, Visa Steel’s recently de-merged coke facility, for about `368 crore.
Visa Steel, a CDR (corporate debt restructuring) case in need of cash and a leading player in special steels, coke and ferro chrome, will retain the majority 51% stake in Visa Coke. In October, Visa Steel had said it will invest up to `180 crore in Visa Coke. (Coke is a key input in steel-making.)
The joint venture (JV) will be eventually renamed Visa SunCoke. It will comprise Visa Steel’s existing 4 lakh tonne per annum (tpa) heat recovery coke plant and associated steam generation units at Kalinganagar in Odisha.
The JV will be unlevered at closing, which is expected in the first quarter of 2013, said the two partners in a joint statement on Tuesday.
“With SunCoke putting in equity, the deal would help us to leverage our existing businesses and raise funds,” said Vishal Agarwal, Visa Steel’s MD.
Visa will seek to grow its coke business by expanding its own production and by creating and managing coke capacities for other steel makers. For, domestic demand from large and medium steel producers has been rising substantially. There is potential to grow the coke business on a standalone basis, Agarwal said.
“SAIL is keen on build-own-operate partners for its coke plants. We will explore such opportunities. Visa and SunCoke will chalk out a growth plan for the next 3-5 years once the joint venture is formalised.”
Until now, SunCoke’s non-US operations were only in Brazil. It held talks with some smaller players before pairing up with Visa Steel. “We believe that the coke industry in India is a key market that offers attractive opportunities to grow our international footprint,” said Fritz Henderson, chairman and CEO of SunCoke.
In the July-September quarter, SunCoke produced 1.1 million tonne of coke. It has 114 million tonne of proven and probable reserves of coal in Virginia.