Hyderabad: Seaways Shipping Ltd, a leading Indian maritime operator headquartered in Hyderabad, has chalked out an expansion plan involving a capital expenditure of Rs700 crore over the next two-three years, according to the company’s chairman and managing director P.V.K. Mohan.

Currently, Seaways Shipping has revenues of Rs600 crore. On Monday, it added a fifth vessel to its fleet at an investment of $18 million (Rs71.3 crore). “We plan to expand the container ships’ strength, add more containers, set up container freight stations both near seaports and in hinterland, and enhance our air and sea freight forwarding services," Mohan said. The maritime operator currently has a network of 37 branches, including nine branches which are located overseas.

Bon voyage: Seaways Shipping has recently launched coastal express services in the western region and plans to expand them further.

Of the Rs700 crore Seaways Shipping plans to raise, it proposes to invest around 60% on buying container ships, 20% on adding containers and 20% on container freight stations and freight forwarding services.

It plans to raise around Rs200 crore before the current fiscal-end from private equity (PE) firms and around Rs500 crore from an initial public offering (IPO) in the next fiscal year.

“We are currently in discussions with few leading PE firms," Mohan told Mint. “We prefer to raise funds from one PE player as the amount required is not very huge. The IPO would also offer an exit route for the PE firm."

Seaways Shipping, which runs a coastal express service in the country’s Eastern region connecting the ports of Vizag, Kolkata/Haldia and Chittagong/Mongla, now proposes to replicate the service in the Western region.

“We have recently launched coastal express service in the west coast of the country connecting key seaports," he said. “It received good response from the mainline operators (MLOs) and domestic shippers, who found diversion of the cargo through this route more economically beneficial. We would like to strengthen services in the Western region connecting major ports to Karachi and Dubai as well, and plan to acquire more vessels."

The company plans to add one more vessel this year and add six more ships to its fleet during the next fiscal year.

Mohan said some of the container ships being planned could be used ones acquired from others. Seaways Shipping hopes to touch the Rs1,000 crore turnover mark by 2008-09—sooner than its earlier target of fiscal 2010.

The key revenue generation areas for it include non-vessel operating container carriers (NVOCC) generating about 12%, vessels 15%, freight forwarding around 20%, and stevedoring an additional 20%.

Keeping in view the rising cargo volumes on account of increasing imports and exports, as well as development of new airports and seaports, Seaways Shipping plans to increase its freight forwarding services, Mohan added.

The company grew by 40% in fiscal 2007. Seaways Shipping now expects to achieve a year-on-year growth of 30-40% within the next three years.