L&T's A M Naik says mind completely occupied with Mindtree acquisition; will make it a big firm

New Delhi: Acquisition of Mindtree is the topmost agenda for infrastructure giant Larsen & Toubro at the moment and eventually the mid-sized IT firm is going to be transformed into a big company, L&T Group Chairman A M Naik said.

The $20 billion conglomerate, which has taken its overall holding in Mindtree to about 26 percent, will launch the open offer to buy additional stake in around 10 days, he added.

"We continuously look for opportunities as they come by, but right now our mind is completely occupied on Mindtree and I hope we will be able to eventually make this into a big company as well," Naik told PTI in an exclusive interview here.

Naik said Mindtree's acquisition was top on L&T's agenda right now.

"We have got around 26 percent stake in Mindtree and now we will wait till we get 51 percent. The open offer will be launched in about 10-12 days time," he added.

Naik joined L&T in 1965 as a junior engineer and rose to the position of CEO and MD in 1999 and chairman in 2003. In 2017, he stepped aside from executive responsibilities and took over as Group Chairman.

 L&Ts A M Naik says mind completely occupied with Mindtree acquisition; will make it a big firm

A.M. Naik, the group executive chairman of Larsen & Toubro. Reuters

On delays in approval for the open offer, Naik said: "In about 10 days it will start."

Elaborating on Mindtree promoters' opposition to the hostile takeover bid, Naik said they are obviously attached to their company but have started to realise that L&T is also an employee-centric organisation.

"Mindtree promoters are obviously attached to their company, so they don't easily want to give up. But now they realise that L&T is a very nice company which is excellent for its employees too. I think slowly they also feel...they wanted to sell it anyway. Altogether it is about 12 percent (stake) and we are not saying you sell and go. Whenever they sell and if they want to sell it to us, we will buy the stake," he said.

Naik stressed that Mindtree is over a billion-dollar acquisition and there is huge potential for growth in the segment.

"I hope we will do better and do great things. ... in IT and engineering service, once we complete our acquisition of Mindtree, we will be $3 billion and our idea is in three to four years, take it to USD 5 billion," he asserted.

He added: "It was zero when I took over....application of new generation of technologies is now a major focus for us with L&T Nxt and I hope we will do a great job in this area."

Earlier, L&T had purchased around 20 percent stake of V G Siddhartha and Cafe Coffee Day in Mindtree through a block deal for about Rs 3,210 crore, and has since topped that up with share purchases from the open market.

In all, the infrastructure major is eyeing up to 66 percent stake in Mindtree for around Rs 10,800 crore—marking the country's first-ever hostile takeover bid in the information technology industry.

L&T had proposed to buy additional stake in Mindtree through an open offer that was slated to begin on May 14 and close on 27 May.

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Updated Date: May 20, 2019 09:47:45 IST