Mumbai: Hamburg Port and Logistics Company, the terminal operator at Germany’s Hamburg port, is keen to invest in India’s ports, particularly the fourth container terminal being planned at Mumbai’s Jawaharlal Nehru port.
A final decision on its ability to participate in the bidding process for the new terminal will depend on the outcome of a proposed privatization of the company, said a senior official of the German company.
HHLA is currently 100% owned by the city of Hamburg.
HHLA had teamed up with United Liner Agencies India Pvt Ltd in 2004 to bid for the third container termianal at J.N. Port. But it lost out to the Maersk-Concor consortium.
“That was a nice opportunity to invest in India. We cannot exclude further nice opportunities that come our way,” said Gerd Drossel, member of the executive board of HHLA.
“We are reluctant to take a decision to invest in India at this moment. First, the future of HHLA’s position is to be seen after the privatization process... would 100% holding be with the City of Hamburg or will we have a different shareholder. Then, we can see what we can do in terms of investments in India,” Drossel said.
The city of Hamburg will decide in spring whether to sell 49% of HHLA, either through a trade sale by inducting a strategic partner or through an initial public offering, he said. The city will retain 51% holding.
HHLA earned revenues of $1.3 billion (Rs5,850 crore) in 2006 from container handling, inter-modal services, logistics services and real estate.
Hamburg is the eighth-largest container port in the world and handled 8.9 million 20-ft equivalent units or TEUs (the standard size of a container and a common unit of measurement in the container business) in 2006. It is the second busiest container port in Europe, after Rotterdam which handled 9.6 million TEUs.
HHLA operates three container terminals in Hamburg while a fourth is operated by Eurogate.
With India’s exports growing at a scorching 20% in the first nine months of the current fiscal, Drossel sees “big potential” for Indo-German trade. Container handling between Indian ports and Hamburg grew by 16% in 2006 over 2005.
Several global container lines such as CMA-CGM, ANL, MAC Andrews, Hapag-Lloyd and Shipping Corporation of India, operate four direct weekly services from J.N. Port and Mundra to Hamburg.