Bangalore: State-run Ennore Port Ltd, the operator of a port of the same name on the Coromandal coast north of Chennai, is in the eye of a storm after releasing a shortlist of six bidders to build a Rs1,300 crore container terminal. Critics, including some potential bidders that failed to qualify, say the list was compiled in an “arbitrary” fashion.
(HOW THEY FARED)According to critics, the shortlisting of six bidders defies eligibility criteria and procedure for such projects set by the Planning Commission, the agency that acts as the secretariat to the Prime Minister’s committee on infrastructure.
The six shortlisted firms include one company bidding on its own—Netherlands-based APM Terminals Management BV—and five so-called consortia, or companies bidding together as a group.
The consortia left in the running are Gammon Infrastructure Projects Ltd-Dragados SPL-Leighton Holdings Ltd; NYK Line with Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. Ltd; Vedanta Resources Plc. with Eurogate GmbH and Co.; Larsen and Toubro Ltd. with John Keells Holdings Plc.; Grup Maritim TCB, SL-Obrascon Huarte Lain, SA-GE Mauritius International Holdings and Eredene Capital Plc.
Those excluded include DP World, which runs the Dubai terminals, and PSA International that operates the Singapore port.
Also failing to make it to the list were Mundra Port and SEZ Ltd with Neptune Orient Lines Ltd; GVK Power and Infrastructure Ltd with Mitsui and Co. Ltd; IL&FS Ltd with Punj Lloyd Ltd and Pembinaan Redzai Sdn Bhd; Terminal Investment Ltd with Samsung Heavy Industries Co. Ltd, Shipping Corp. of India Ltd, Concor Ltd, CWC Ltd and Hind Terminals Pvt. Ltd.
“It’s surprising to see both DP World and PSA being excluded from the bidding process,” said Shailesh Garg, general manager at the Indian unit of London-based maritime consultancy firm Drewry Maritime Services Pvt. Ltd.
“The whole process is not clear,” he said.
SBI Capital Markets Ltd, an arm of India’s largest bank that evaluated the initial qualification bids, declined to comment.
A spokesperson for Ennore Port said that it had followed the process mentioned in the bid documents to shortlist final bidders.
The criteria set by the Planning Commission include experience in projects such as marine structures, on-shore and off-shore terminals, berths, jetties, quays, cargo handling systems, port-based terminal facilities, container freight stations, inland container depots, storage tanks, pipelines and warehousing.
Experience in other infrastructure projects such as power, telecommunications, highways, airports, railways, industrial parks, petroleum and natural gas, pipelines, irrigation, water supply, sewerage and real estate development also counts as a qualification.
The credentials of eligible applicants were to be measured in terms of a so-called experience score, based on the sum total of the scores they notch up for all such projects.
In the case of a consortium bidding for the project, the score of each of its members that have an equity share of at least 26% were to be summed up for arriving at the combined aggregate experience score. The applicants were then to be ranked on the basis of their respective aggregate experience scores and shortlisted for submission of price bids.
At the time of submitting the initial qualification bids, each applicant was required to mention an experience score based on the criteria.
Each of the 22 applicants mentioned such scores, released by Ennore Port on 20 May, when the deadline for submission of bids ended.
But when the final shortlist was released, applicants with lesser experience scores were included while those with higher points such as DP World, PSA International and India’s Sical Logistics Ltd found themselves excluded.
“We will be asking the port why this has happened,” said Sudhir Rangnekar, managing director and Group chief executive officer, Sical Logistics.
However, Ganesh Raj, senior vice-president and managing director, India subcontinent, at DP World, declined to comment.
“It looks like Ennore Port Ltd has arbitrarily picked up a list of people whom they like and shortlisted them,” said an official at the India Terminal consortium that included Terminal Investment Ltd, Samsung C&T Group, Concor, Shipping Corp. of India Ltd, Central Warehousing Corp. Ltd and Hind Terminals Ltd.
The consortium had a score of 105,613.98, but found itself out of the race.
Consortiums such as L&T Ltd-John Keells Holdings Plc. with a score of 16,407.49, NYK Lines India Ltd-Evergreen Marine-Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. Ltd-JYM Ports with a score of 19,279.65, and Vedanta Resources Plc.-Eurogate GmBH-Mota Engil with a score of 38,310.18 were shortlisted.
“Even assuming that some applicants have wrongly calculated or misquoted their experience scores and showed points as high as 105,613.98, it cannot suddenly fall so drastically to below 16,000 when SBI Capital Markets carried out evaluation,” said an executive at Vadinar Oil Terminal Ltd-Essar Ports and Terminals-Wan Hai Lines Ltd.