Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who made a fortune by selling his stake in mobile service provider BPL Mobile, is betting big on the Indian ports sector.
Chandrasekhar, now a Rajya Sabha member, plans to develop and operate a Rs1,300 crore port at Vijaydurg, in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district through his firm Jupiter Capital, which is being awarded the project without any competitive bidding process.
“We have finalized a proposal to develop Vijaydurg port by Jupiter Capital for a (concession) period of 50 years. The government of Maharashtra is expected to approve the award, after which a formal announcement will be made,” said Sudhir Srivastava, chief executive officer of Maharashtra Maritime Board, the maritime regulator vested with the task of overseeing the development of ports owned by the government in the state.
Jupiter Capital, a venture firm of which Chandrasekhar is the chairman and chief executive officer, is being awarded the Vijaydurg port project through a memorandum of understanding.
This means that the project developer was identified without any competitive bidding process. The firm will build and operate the port for a period of 50 years from the date of award of the contract. When operational, within two-three years, Vijaydurg port will handle cargo for industries located in Satara, Sangli, Sholapur, Pune and Ahmednagar.
Being a non-major port, owned by the state government and not the Centre as in the case of ports such as those in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Haldia, Vijaydurg port will not be governed by the Tariff Authority for Major Ports, the tariff regulator for Centre-owned ports.
“Hence, the operator of Vijaydurg port will have full freedom to fix tariffs for the services provided at the port,” Srivastava said.
Chandrasekhar, a former senior design engineer of the team that developed the 32-bit 80486 microprocessor at Intel Corp., is also looking at bidding for the planned Rs4,360 crore deep-water container terminal at Vizhinjam port, Kerala. After selling his stake in BPL Mobile in 2005 to rival Hutchison Essar for more than Rs1,000 crore, Chandrasekhar floated Jupiter Capital to focus on infrastructure, media and technology ventures.
Jupiter Capital set up Hindustan Infrastructure Projects & Engineering Pvt. Ltd to pursue investment opportunities in infrastructure areas such as transportation, utilities (such as water), electricity transmission and aviation.
Hindustan Infrastructure holds 24% stake in India Infrastructure and Logistics Pvt. Ltd, a joint venture firm floated by the Singapore government-owned global transportation and logistics firm, Neptune Orient Lines to provide rail freight services in India.