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Dorf Ketal processes a global march

business Updated: Mar 22, 2007 16:34 IST

In the age of global takeovers by the Tatas and the Birlas, an unlisted speciality chemicals firm based in Taloja has bought ExxonMobil Chemical's component additive business for an undisclosed amount. And, this is not the first time that Dorf Ketal Chemicals India Pvt Ltd has made an acquisition.

Much before Indian businesses developed an appetite for global assets, Dorf Ketal had acquired UOP's refining chemicals and plastics additives business in 2001 and 2003 for undisclosed sums (it is bound by confidentiality terms).

''These acquisition gave us the brand image we needed to sell in the American and the Middle East market,'' said Subodh Menon, the 36-year-old founder CEO of Dorf Ketal.

What's interesting about this and the other two acquisitions Dorf Ketal has made is that it just acquired the product lines (the brands, the customers, the know-how), minus the liabilities of old plants and high-cost manpower. Many Indian firms acquiring assets abroad are beginning to think along on these lines now.

Founded by five chemical engineers and chemists 13 years ago, the unlisted firm boasts of a sales turnover of nearly 500 crore with operations in Brazil, offices in the US (where it sources products from contract manufacturers) and Europe, and plans to soon set up shop in China. It is working on three more acquisitions.

But hasn't size been a constraint (when it made the first acquisition, it's sales turnover was just Rs 80 crore)? What gives it the confidence to cut deals with global majors like UOP or ExxonMobil? ''UOP had seen us as a competitor. We have a different technology. We have 17 doctorates working in our R&D and have applied for 23 patents, and have 11 granted,'' adds Menon.

Dorf makes process chemicals used in oil refineries and petrochemicals plants, fuel additives and additives to make polyurethane and poly urea, which are used to make dashboards with leather-like finishes for luxury cars. ''This acquisition will bring us new customers; we would also start selling our process chemicals to them,'' adds Menon. It will help it grow revenues by $43 million (Rs 189 crore).

India's global surge clearly isn't defined by size and famous names anymore.