Indian corporate giant Tata Steel and Brazil’s CSN on Tuesday entered the auction ring for the prized trophy — Anglo Dutch steelmaker Corus group — amid reports the bid could go as high as £11 billion.  The nine-round auction called by the UK Takeover Panel to decide the winner between the two suitors began at 10 pm Indian time (16.30 GMT) and would end the slugfest that has been on for three months.

Tata Steel had bid $9.2 billion (£4.6 billion) against CSN’s much higher $9.6 billion (£4.9 billion) last month, prompting the UK Takeover Panel to intervene and pick the winner through open bidding.  Ahead of the auction, Tata Steel’s board met on Tuesday presumably to discuss strategy for the auction, besides approving the earnings for the October-December quarter, during which it had submitted its preliminary bid for Corus.

While Tata Sons director Arun Gandhi along with investment bankers and advisers is camping here, CSN said its team would be based at offices of Lazard, its main investment banker in the West-end office.  If no winner emerges in the first eight rounds of open bidding scheduled to be completed by Wednesday, presumably even by electronic offers, the takeover panel will go in for a ninth and final round on February 1. Under the auction norms, each suitor is required to raise bids by a minimum of five pence per share.

Tata steel, whose 500 pence a share bid was countered by CSN with a 515 pence, would be the first to submit its offer, sources said. Neither Tata officials nor that of CSN were available for comments on the extent of their bidding, which could go to a minimum of 600 pence a share if the winner is to be decided by the ninth round. Meanwhile, the Brazilian suitor Companhia Siderguica Nacional on Tuesday announced it had secured all necessary regulatory approvals for its Corus bid.

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