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Open offer for Worthington

Calcutta, May 26: Hindustan Udyog Ltd, a Calcutta-based steel company owned by one V. . Agarwal and his family, has made a cash offer to the shareholders of WPIL Ltd for 20 per cent of the latter’s shares.

The Khaitans of the Williamson Magor group hold over 80 per cent stake in WPIL — formerly Worthington Pumps India Ltd. They are unlikely to participate in the offer, and it is expected to fall through.

In a despatch to the stock exchanges, the Agarwals said they had acquired 15 per cent of WPIL’s shares from the market earlier this month at Rs 4.05 per share.

To fulfil their obligations under the takeover regulations, the Agarwals are quoting the same price — Rs 4.05 per share — to the shareholders of WPIL in their cash offer.

The Khaitans and Agarwals are related. WPIL’s non-executive chairman Deepak Khaitan said the Agarwals’ bid to acquire a substantial stake was not aimed at gaining management control of the company.

“The two families have agreed to manage the company jointly. V. . Agarwal and his son, Prakash Agarwal, have already joined the board of WPIL — the latter as the managing director,” he said, adding that he would continue to be the chairman.

Explaining the decision, Khaitan said the Agarwals had promised to invest in reviving WPIL, which in the last financial year ended September 2002, posted a loss of Rs 39 lakh on a turnover of Rs 31.23 crore.

In better days, WPIL had partnered companies like Johnston Pump, Hayward Tyler, Worthington and Ingersoll Dresser — all big names in pump manufacturing. Its name changed to WPIL since its joint venture agreement with Ingersoll Dresser Pumps ended in 1995.

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