September 9, 2021: Media reports in India and internationally in the last few days have reported that battery giant Exide Industries has sold its life insurance business to life insurance company HDFC Life, with speculation that the proceeds will be ploughed into advanced lithium battery cell manufacture.
Reuters said the deal had cost HDFC $915 million, and shares of the battery firm surged by up to 15% on September 3 on the news.
The sale, the announcement said, would be completed before June 2022.
Exide Industries is now left with the battery arm of the business, which The Hindu BusinessLine platform said on August 31 was going to be expanded to include a Tesla-style gigafactory. The company, it said, would take advantage of the Indian government’s recently implemented PLI (production-linked incentive) scheme to ramp up manufacturing.
“We are interested in the gigafactory and investments will be made depending on the long-term prospects,” the platform quoted Exide CEO Subir Chakraborty as saying. “However, the details of the PLI scheme are something that we are awaiting at the moment. We are a cash-rich company and we are not ruling out anything at the moment.”
Chakraborty took over as MD and CEO at the end of April, when Gautam Chatterjee stepped aside and was reappointed as ‘whole-time adviser’ to the board. In three years’ time Chatterjee will also retire from the board of directors.
Chakraborty joined Exide in 1996 and has been on the board for the past eight years.
The Indian Economic Times quoted him as saying during the company’s annual general meeting that they were ‘evaluating installing an advanced cell chemistry project’ while awaiting details of the PLI.
“However, the project viability will depend on future demand for lithium-based batteries,” he was quoted as saying.