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MENAFN - AFP - 03/11/2012

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(MENAFN - AFP) India's Hinduja Group is close to acquiring US oils and chemicals firm Houghton for 1.1 billion as the family-owned conglomerate seeks a tie-up for its lubricants business, a report said Saturday.

Pennsylvania-based Houghton International, owned by private equity firm AEA Investors, is among the world's biggest manufacturers of hydraulic fuels, rust preventatives and lubricants for the automotive and steel sectors.

The deal is expected to be announced soon as most of the terms have been agreed, the Business Standard newspaper quoted a senior unnamed Hinduja official as saying.

"We are awaiting an announcement as some last-minute negotiations are going on," the official said, according to Business Standard.

The Hinduja group is one of India's biggest industrial houses with interests from banking to chemicals while the Hinduja brothers, who steer the group, are based in London and Indian financial hub Mumbai.

A spokesman for the group -- run by chairman Srichand Hinduja, with the help of his brothers, Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok -- could not be immediately reached for comment.

The purchase of Houghton, which has manufacturing plants throughout the world, would mark the biggest foreign acquisition by an Indian company this year and would be Hindujas' largest ever abroad, Business Standard said.

The Hindujas have a presence around the globe, employing over 40,000 people, according to the group's website.

Many Indian companies are scouting for foreign purchases as good assets abroad are becoming cheaper due to the economic slowdown gripping the west, analysts say.

India's giant Tata group last month made a bid to buy US-based Orient-Express for 1.8 billion. The luxury hotel chain said Friday it was consulting financial and legal advisors on the takeover bid and would reply "in due course of time".

In seeking to acquire Houghton, the Hindujas see benefits for Mumbai-based listed group company Gulf Oil, which is among the top five private sector lubricant players in India, Business Standard said.


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