Changi Airports may pick up stake in Kolkata-based firm

Changi Airports may pick up stake in Kolkata-based firm

Kolkata: The investment arm of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore—Changi Airports International Pte. Ltd (CAI) —may take a minority equity interest in Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Ltd (BAPL), a Kolkata-based company looking to build new airports integrated with industrial parks and townships.

CAI might acquire about 18% in BAPL for $26 million, or a tad more than Rs100crore, valuing the firm at almost Rs500 crore, according to an investment banker familiar with the Indian firm’s plans. The deal with CAI should be closed in 15-20 days, he said on condition of anonymity.

When contacted, BAPL chairman Arvind Pande said: “Discussions (with CAI) are at an advanced stage and things are looking positive."

He, however, refused to quantify the shares that BAPL was looking to sell to CAI, or the price. “Our promoters have put in Rs50 crore up till now. If we do sell shares to Changi, we’ll sell at a premium," said Pande, who was formerly a secretary with India’s civil aviation ministry.

Ahfisah Rahman, the spokesperson for CAI, also refused to provide information on the plan. “CAI is always exploring appropriate investment opportunities and can share such information only after they crystallize. CAI’s current engagement (with BAPL) is limited to technical consultancy services and training for the proposed ­Durgapur airport (in West ­Bengal)," he said.

On 27 February, BAPL had signed a “technical services agreement" with CAI for the Durgapur Aerotropolis—a project estimated to cost $2.5 billion, which would include a new airport 200km from Kolkata, an industrial park and a township.

The airport is expected to start functioning in two-and-a-half to three years.

BAPL, which was promoted, among others, by a close relative of Union civil aviation minister Praful Patel, has been talking to several other potential investors to raise funds for the Durgapur project, according to Pande.

“But if Changi comes in— whether on its own or through a consortium—it will maintain its stake in the company even as the equity base increases," he said, implying that the BAPL management and CAI were working on a deal under which the latter would be asked to infuse funds from time to time.

This isn’t the first time CAI has taken interest in civil aviation in India. In February last year, it had formed a joint venture with the Tata group to take part in the privatization of government-run airports in the country.

The immediate aim of that joint venture company, in which CAI held 49%, was to bid for the then proposed privatization of the Chennai and Kolkata airports.

In the last couple of years, CAI has also worked on airport improvement projects in India through a consortium that included the GVK Group.

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