Ispat may fund port with sale of stake in firm

Ispat may fund port with sale of stake in firm

Bangalore: Steel maker Ispat Industries Ltd is in talks to sell stake in its port operating firm as it expands its captive port at Dharamtar near Mumbai into a commercial port with an investment of Rs2,270 crore, a top executive said.

“We have started the process of locating a partner for our expanded port project," said Pradeep Tewari, director of Geetapuram Port Services Ltd, the company floated by Ispat to develop and operate Dharamtar port, 24 nautical miles (NM) from Mumbai.

While Tewari did not give details, he said Ispat would continue to hold a majority stake in the port, which was given to it in 1995 by the Maharashtra government to import raw material for a 3 million tonnes (mt) a year capacity hot-rolled coils plant at Dolvi in Maharashtra.

“Dharamtar is strategically located being only 13NM or 3 hours by barge from JN Port, which means that it is in an excellent position to serve as a complimentary facility to India’s biggest container port," said Vishal Sharma, managing director, Tuscan Ventures Pvt. Ltd, a logistics focused PE firm.

The state government recently allowed Ispat to handle third-party cargo at Dharamtar and the port has signed on two-three customers who will use the facility.

The expansion will see cargo handling capacity at the port rise to 40mt a year by 2013 from 9mt. The port currently handles 6mt of cargo a year for Ispat.