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This Indian firm shops big abroad

A little-known Mumbai firm buys a US-based firm's component additive business, reports R Sarkar.

business Updated: Mar 22, 2007 04:35 IST

In the age of global takeovers by big banners like the Tatas and Birlas, an unlisted, little-known speciality chemicals firm based in Taloja has bought US-based ExxonMobil Chemical’s component additive business for an undisclosed amount. The deal was announced on Wednesday.

And this is not the first time that the homegrown Dorf Ketal Chemicals India Pvt Ltd has made a global acquisition.

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

“These acquisitions gave us the brand image we needed to sell in the US and the Middle-East markets,” said Subodh Menon, the 36-year-old founder CEO of Dorf Ketal.

What is interesting about the acquisitions is that Dorf Ketal 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 Rs 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.

Dorf makes process chemicals used in oil refineries and petrochemical plants, fuel additives and additives to make polyurethane and poly urea, which are used to make dashboards with a leather-like finish for luxury cars. The buy will help it grow revenues by $43 million (Rs 189 crore).