Adani, JNPT likely to bid for acquiring bankrupt Dighi Port
Due to poor hinterland connectivity, the port has so far only started partial operations in its 30 MT capacity
Mumbai: Adani Ports, India’s largest private sector port operator, and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Navi Mumbai are likely to bid for Dighi Port, which was declared bankrupt by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in April, according to two people aware of the matter.
A subsidiary of South Korean steel giant Posco is also rumoured to be interested in the port, although Mint could not independently verify this.
Queries sent to Posco Maharashtra Steel and Adani Ports were unanswered at the time of going to print while a spokesperson for JNPT declined to comment.
Dighi Port is a minor greenfield port located in the Raigad district of Maharashtra, along the Konkan coast. It is a private port owned by Balaji Infra Projects Ltd and IL&FS Ltd. Dighi port is part of the Dedicated Freight Corridor and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.
The port is being developed as a multipurpose, multicargo and all-weather port under a 50-year concession agreement with the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) on a build, own, operate, share, transfer basis and has a land bank of 1,600 acres.
However, because of poor hinterland connectivity, the port, which has a 30 million tonne capacity to handle coal, bauxite and containers, has only started partial operations.
In March, the port had been taken to the bankruptcy court by an operational creditor. It also owes ₹1,600 crore to a consortium of banks.
The last date for buyers to submit expressions of interest is 21 September, according to disclosures made under NCLT.
Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) is the country’s largest port developer and operator with 10 ports and terminals on both the western and eastern coasts—Mundra, Dahej, Kandla and Hazira in Gujarat, Dhamra in Odisha, Mormugao in Goa, Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, Vizhinjam in Kerala and Kattupalli and Ennore in Chennai.
APSEZ represents 24% of India’s total port capacity and is also developing a transshipment port at Vizhinjam, Kerala. The company reported net profit of ₹3,683 crore in FY18.
In May, Mint reported that JNPT was considering using its sizeable cash reserves to buy out smaller cash-strapped ports to quickly ramp up capacity. As of March 2017, JNPT had reported ₹4,700 crore of free cash reserves and the government-owned port is close to exhausting its capacity to handle coal, steel and other cargo.
In an interview on 22 May, Neeraj Bansal, chairman-in-charge, JNPT, said that the Mumbai-based port operator had hired a consultant to carry out a feasibility study and identify potential acquisition targets. This included the loss-making Mormugao Port Trust in Goa and the Dighi Port in the Konkan.
For South Korean steel maker Posco, it will be its first logistics-related investment in India. Posco Maharashtra Steel, a subsidiary of Posco Korea, operates a plant in Raigad district with installed capacity of 0.45 million tonnes per year of coated steel and 1 million tonnes per year for cold-rolled steel.
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