Mumbai: Hyderabad-based construction and infrastructure development firm Maytas Infra Ltd plans to enter the airport development and operation business through alliances with strategic partners.

“We are looking to enter the airport development business," said B. Teja Raju, vice-chairman. Raju is the eldest son of B. Ramalinga Raju, co-founder of India’s fourth largest computer services firm by revenues, Satyam Computer Services Ltd.

A view of the Delhi airport, being developed by a consortium led by the GMR Group. Maytas plans to develop and operate airports as government policy now encourages private participation

India needs an investment of nearly Rs40,000 crore in building and modernizing its airports by 2010, according to the Union ministry of civil aviation. Besides modernizing airports in large cities, the central government is upgrading 35 non-metro airports. The government also plans to build seven new airports apart from encouraging the setting up of so-called merchant and low- cost airports.

The Tata group, for instance, has tied up with Singapore’s Changi Airport Authority to also bid for low-cost airports in Karnataka.

Deccan Aviation Ltd, which runs India’s largest low fare carrier Air Deccan, is also planning to develop small airports in partnership with construction companies.

The proposed entry into airports comes ahead of plans by Maytas to sell 8.85 million shares in an initial public offer with plans to raise up to Rs327 crore. The share sale, scheduled to run between 27 September and 4 October, will constitute 15% of the post-issue capital of the firm. Maytas posted a net profit of Rs55 crore on revenues of Rs641 crore in the year ended March. It held orders worth Rs3,600 crore as on June 30.

Maytas has also filed an expression of interest to bid for the proposed Rs900 crore coal and iron ore berths at the central government-run Paradip port, teaming up with another Hyderabad construction firm Nagarjuna Construction Co. Ltd and Kakinada Seaports Ltd.

S. Mohan Gurunath, head, strategic deals group of Maytas, said that a consortium comprising Maytas, Nagarjuna, SREI Infrastructure Finance Ltd and Sarat Chatterjee & Co. has won a Rs1,255-crore project to build and operate a deepwater port at Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

“We are currently finalizing the terms of the contract with the Andhra Pradesh government," said Gurunath. The new port is slated to start operations in January 2010, with three berths having a capacity to handle 17 million tonnes a year of cargo.

Maytas is also one of the entities shortlisted by the Andhra Pradesh government to build a Rs6,366 crore, 60 km-long metro rail project in Hyderabad. Maytas has teamed up with Malaxmi NBFA Ventures Pvt. Ltd (an infrastructure development company formed by Nava Bharat Ferro Alloys Ltd and Malaxmi Group Pvt. Ltd), Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd and Thailand-based construction firm Italian-Thai Development Public Co. Ltd to bid for the Hyderabad metro rail project.

Reuters contributed tothis story.