(C) Citigroup to Invest in Indian Firm

Citi Venture Capital International (CVCI) – a private equity wing of Citigroup, Inc. (C) – is expected to make an investment of $72.1 million (INR 400 crores) in India-based Sree Jayajothi Cements, The Times of India reported on Monday. Sree Jayajothi Cements – a diversified unit of Shriram Group – has a plant in the Kurnool-Kadappa region of Andhra Pradesh with a production capacity of 3.2 million tons per annum.

With the ongoing concerns among global buyout firms about investing in India as returns have gone down due to rupee depreciation, the prospects of the Indian cement sector is on the verge of a downtrend. Some movements in the sector are visible, as recently Irish giant CRH and Aditya Birla have shown interest in purchasing the Gujarat plants of Jaypee Cements.

Among other private equity firms, The Blackstone Group LP (BX), Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) and Mount Kellet were in talks about investing in Jayajothi. For converting its loans into equity, Shriram Group acquired a 70% stake in Jayajothi earlier in 2012.

With Jayajothi having large debts and ongoing regulatory intrusions in the cement sector, a definite deal is long awaited. Shriram Group aims to get a financial partner for the revival of the cement unit. Moreover, it plans to bestow equal stake post-dilution to the new investor.

Moreover, Chennai-based Shriram Group had valued Jayajothi at approximately $85-90 per ton when loans into equity were converted, and therefore anticipates same valuation for new investors.

CVCI is a private equity firm, specializing in restructuring and industry consolidations in emerging markets. It focuses on private equity groups which make investments for entrepreneurs and business families. CVCI recently invested INR 764 crore in Mumbai-based Cox & Kings. The company is looking for the best investment opportunities in India to increase profitability.

Recently, the private equity arm of The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and New Enterprise Associates (NEA), an American venture capital fund, came together with an investment of $54 million in Bangalore-based Nova Medical Centers. Nova is a leading Indian healthcare firm for day/short-stay surgical care and fertility.

Citigroup currently retains a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating. Considering the fundamentals, we also maintain our Neutral recommendation on the stock.

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