Billionaire Anil Agarwal struggles to get backers for $19 billion chip unit in Gujarat

NEW DELHI: Billionaire Anil Agarwal is struggling to find financial backers for a planned semiconductor factory in India’s Gujarat with an investment of as much as Rs 1.54 trillion ($18.6 billion), according to people familiar with the matter.

Agarwal’s representatives met with large funds from the Middle East, Singapore, and the US over the past three months to garner financing commitments for the manufacturing business, the people said, asking not to be named as the information is not public.

All the funds gave the opportunity a pass leaving them with almost no backers for the project, they said, without providing further details.

The tycoon had announced in September that his Volcan group had joined forces with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, the assembler of most of the world’s iPhones, to build a chipmaking facility in the state of Gujarat. The partners, with little experience running large chip operations, were betting on rising semiconductor demand while announcing the plan.

Volcan Investments Ltd, the family trust of Agarwal, is not looking for any external investors to finance the semiconductor and display project, its spokesman said in an emailed statement.

The investors to whom Agarwal pitched the plan raised concerns about the group’s limited experience in the sector, and its stretched financial situation, they said.

While Agarwal had initially tweeted that Vedanta Ltd., his India unit, was making the chip plant investments, he backtracked a few days later to say that the manufacturing business would fall within the purview of Volcan.

To be sure, the venture plans an initial investment of $2 billion for the plant that is expected to be set up in two years. The Indian government is also offering to bear half the costs for such projects under a production incentive plan.

While Vedanta Ltd. boasts an investment-grade rating, Moody’s Investors Service classifies its majority owner, Vedanta Resources Ltd., as high-yield. Volcan is the ultimate parent of both entities.

Source: Bloomberg

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