Report: Four Funds Compete for Hero Honda Stake

(Reuters) – KKR & Co., TPG Capital, Carlyle Group and Bain Capital Llc are competing to acquire a part of Honda Motor Co’s stake in India’s biggest motorcycle maker, Hero Honda Motors, Bloomberg reported.

Two of the funds may jointly buy about 15 percent, valued at $1.1 billion in Hero Honda, the news agency said, citing three anonymous sources.

Another 5 percent may be sold to the Munjal family, founders of the Hero group, the report said, citing two unidentified people. Honda Motor and the Hero Group each own 26 percent in Hero Honda.

Separately, the DNA newspaper, citing an unnamed source, reported the Munjal family was likely to purchase the entire 26 percent stake held by Honda Motor for $1.2 billion through a special purpose vehicle incorporated in Singapore.

Reports of a change to Hero Honda’s equity structure have surfaced repeatedly for years, particularly after Honda Motor, the world’s biggest motorcycle maker, set up a separate wholly owned two-wheeler unit in India in 2001 to compete with Hero Honda.

Last month, Indian television channel ET NOW reported the Munjals were in talks to buy out 20 percent of Honda’s stake, with private equity firm KKR possibly buying the remaining six.

Both Hero and Honda on Saturday repeated their stance that no imminent change was in the works.

“We have already given our stand. We have nothing to add,” a Hero Group spokesman said.

Honda Motor spokeswoman Natsuno Asanuma said the joint venture partners were in regular contact about future model plans and other issues, but dismissed the reports as speculation.

Honda and Hero have had a successful partnership utilising Honda’s technology and Hero’s strength in sales. Hero Honda is by far the biggest motorcycle maker in India, selling more than 4.3 million motorcycles last year.

Honda’s 100 percent owned Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India sold a little more than 1 million units in 2009, doubling sales in the past four years.