NEW DELHI/MUMBAI (Reuters) -
India's Sterlite Industries
(STRL.BO)(SLT.N) on Saturday agreed to buy the operating assets
of bankrupt copper miner Asarco for $2.6 billion, the latest in
the series of overseas acquisitions by Indian firms.

Tuscon-based Asarco, the third largest copper maker in U.S.
had total revenue of $1.9 billion in 2007, Sterlite, a unit of
Vedanta Resources Plc (VED.L) said in a statement.

"Asarco is a strategic fit with Sterlite's existing copper
business," the Indian firm said in the statement.

On Friday a lawyer close to the deal had told Reuters in
New York that Vedanta had signed a $2.6 billion deal to buy the
assets of Asarco.

Asarco, formerly known as American Smelting and Refining
Co, produced 235,000 tonnes of refined copper in 2007 and its
mines have an estimated reserve of 5 million tonnes of
contained copper.

It filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005 after it was
sued for $1 billion over environmental and asbestos claim.

Sterlite, is India's top non-ferrous metals and mining firm
with interests in aluminium, copper, zinc and lead.

The deal, subject to the approval of a U.S. Bankruptcy
Court
, will be funded through a mix of debt and existing cash,
Sterlite said.

Last June, it had raised $1.75 billion in American
depositary shares
to pay for possible acquisitions and cut
debt.

Indian firms coming of years of strong profitable growth
and clean balance sheets that aid easy access to capital have
been snapping up overseas firms to expand their presence
globally.

Cellular firm Reliance Communications Ltd (RLCM.BO) has
started talks with South Africa's MTN (MTN.J) that could
culminate in the creation of a $66 billion telecom group.

Tata Steel (TISC.BO), last year engineered India's biggest
takeover to date, a $13 billion purchase of Anglo-Dutch steel
maker Corus Group and aluminium maker Hindalco Industries
(HALC.BO) bought Canada's Novelis for $5.9 billion including
debt.

Tata Motors (TAMO.BO) in March agreed to buy the Jaguar and
Land Rover Brands from Ford Motor Co (F.N) for $2.3 billion.

Indian firm have announced outbound merger and acquisition
deals
worth $7.1 billion so far in 2008, Thomson Reuters data
showed.

ABN AMRO advised Sterlite and it was Lehman Brothers
(LEH.N) for Asarco, the statement said.

Shares in Sterlite, which has a market value of $15.6
billion, ended 2.8 percent down at 934.90 rupees on Friday in a
firm Mumbai market.

(Reporting by Narayanan Somasundaram, Nidhi Verma and
Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Louise Heavens)

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