JSW Infrastructure-Srei to buy Sterling Port in Dahej
A consortium of JSW Infrastructure, a part of Sajjan Jindal’s JSW Group, and Srei Infrastructure Finance Ltd is set to acquire the upcoming Sterling Port in Dahej from its lenders, according to two people aware of the matter.
The JSW-Srei combine has reached an agreement with lenders of Sterling Port, which includes Srei Infrastructure Finance, Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank, said one of the two people cited above on condition of anonymity.
Sterling owes lenders Rs300 crore and has an additional Rs80 crore in dues to the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), the regulator for all non-major ports in Gujarat. In one of the quickest resolution processes, the final bids were received last month after bids were invited from interested parties starting 1 November. PwC India advised the lenders, said the second person on condition of anonymity.
Essar Ports Ltd, Shapoorji Pallonji Group, Chennai-based IMC Ltd, and Netherlands-based Royal Vopak NV had submitted expressions of interest to acquire the port controlled by the Vadodara-based Sandesara Group, Mint reported on 3 December.
Lenders to Sterling Port plan to bring a strategic investor to replace the existing concessionaire at the Dahej port project in Gujarat, Mint reported on 30 October.
Though Srei had submitted a bid on its own through unit ILog Port (Dahej) Pvt. Ltd, it was not considered as it didn’t meet the minimum revenue criterion of Rs500 crore, forcing the infrastructure financier to join hands with JSW Infrastructure, said the first person.
Sterling Port promoters hold close to 74% equity in the port project, while the remaining stake is held by Sterling Biotech Ltd, the group’s publicly listed flagship company.
Sterling Port was awarded a 30-year concession to develop an all-weather, direct-berthing port for handling dry bulk, liquid bulk and container cargoes.
“We are exploring various mechanisms to recover our dues. We are open minded towards any structure, which is permitted under the regulations,” said a Srei spokesperson. Emails sent to spokespersons for JSW Infra, Sterling Port Ltd and Andhra Bank were not answered until press time. A PWC spokesperson declined to comment
Mint had reported in March that Srei Infrastructure planned to acquire Sandesara Group’s stake in the Rs4,060-crore greenfield port being developed at Dahej.
GMB had signed a concession agreement with Sterling Port for the development of Dahej port in June 2015. In phase-I, two solid cargo terminals, a liquid cargo terminal and a container terminal would be commissioned at a cost of around Rs2,500 crore. In phase-II, one terminal each for solid, liquid and container would be added.
Ports and terminals under JSW Infrastructure in Maharashtra and Goa have an operational capacity of 33 million tonnes per annum. Within the next four years, this is going to increase more than six-fold to reach 200 mtpa, according to the company website. India’s merchandise exports grew 30.56% to $26.2 billion in November 2017 from a year ago, while merchandise imports increased 19.6% to $40 billion.