Bangalore: Mining and metals conglomerate Vedanta Resources Plc, controlled by Anil Agarwal, looks set to enter the ports business after submitting the best bid in the tender to upgrade and mechanize a general cargo berth to handle coking coal and steam coal at the Union government-owned port at Visakhapatnam, or Vizag, in Andhra Pradesh.
The price bid for the Rs600 crore project with a capacity to handle 10.18 million tonnes (mt) of coking and steam coal was opened on Monday.
The London Metal Exchange-listed Vedanta Resources is Agarwal’s holding company and owns controlling stakes in Sterlite Industries India Ltd, Hindustan Zinc Ltd, Sesa Goa Ltd, Vedanta Aluminium Ltd and Konkola Copper Mines Plc in Zambia.
Vedanta, which bid for the project with Leighton Contractors (India) Pvt. Ltd, quoted a revenue share of 38.1% to win the 30-year contract, said an official at Vizag port who did not want to be named as the process wasn’t complete. The board of Vizag port will meet in the next few days to approve the bid, the port official said.
The bidder willing to share the highest percentage of annual revenue with the government-owned port will be given the contract, according to rules for the award of public-private partnership projects auctioned by the Union government in the sector.
The Tariff Authority for Major Ports, the tariff regulator for 11 of the 12 Central government ports such as Vizag, has approved a coal-handling rate of Rs131.94 per tonne at the new berth. Vedanta’s quote would mean it will share Rs50.26 of the revenue earned from handling each tonne of cargo.
Vedanta could not be immediately reached for comment.
Mundra Port and Special Economic Zone Ltd, which runs India’s biggest private port at Mundra in Gujarat, quoted 32.09%. A consortium comprising IL&FS Maritime Infrastructure Co. Ltd and ABG Ports Ltd quoted a revenue share of 31.97%. Others in the race for the project were Gammon Infrastructure Projects Ltd and Vadinar Oil Terminals Ltd. Larsen and Toubro Ltd, another shortlisted bidder, backed out without bidding.
“It is a very aggressive bid,” said a rival executive, who asked not to be identified.
Besides this deal, Vedanta is one of the shortlisted bidders for a Rs1,407 crore container terminal at the Union government-owned Ennore port in Tamil Nadu. The group has also filed a so-called expression of interest to develop and operate a Rs6,700 crore container terminal at Jawaharlal Nehru Port, India’s busiest container port, near Mumbai.
Apart from ports, Agarwal last year announced his intention to enter the steel business with a partner. The group also has plans to build power plants that can produce 11,000MW of electricity with an investment of some Rs45,000 crore.
The Union government controls a dozen big ports that together handled 530.53 mt of cargo in the year ended March, accounting for some 72% of India’s external trade shipped by the sea route.
The government plans to double the cargo handling capacity of the 12 ports to 1,016 mt by 2012 from 574.77 mt as economic growth strains existing facilities.
The additional 442 mt capacity will require an investment of close to Rs55,804 crore, out of which Rs36,868 crore will come from the private sector and the balance from the internal resources of the ports and government budgetary support, according to the shipping ministry.