SC asks panel to decide on Bidvest's MIAL stake sale by December 15

Mumbai Airport
The Mumbai International Airport (MIAL) acquisition battle has moved to the Supreme Court (SC), with the apex court asking the arbitration panel set up by Delhi High Court (HC) to take a call on the sale of Bidvest’s 13.5 per cent stake in MIAL by December 15.

Unhappy with the delay in selling its stake to Adani Group in January this year due to litigation by GVK Group, Bidvest had moved the SC. The SC on Wednesday asked the panel to take a call on the matter by Sunday (December 15). The court will hear the matter again on January 13, 2020.

The counsel appearing on behalf of Bidvest submitted to the SC if the matter gets further delayed, the prospective purchaser (Adani Group) may back out from the deal. It was submitted by Bidvest that GVK Group has no money to purchase its shares and any delay in the disposal of the matter would prejudicially affect its interests. 

“Considering the submissions, we request the arbitral tribunal to dispose of the application filed under Section 17 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, on the next date of hearing — December 15, 2019,” the SC said. It will hear the matter again on January 13.

Bidvest signed a transaction to sell its stake in MIAL in January with Adani Group and according to its right of first refusal agreement offered to sell the stake to GVK. The GVK Group failed to buy the stake within the stipulated 30-day deadline and moved Delhi HC. The single Bench of Delhi HC rejected the GVK petition, seeking more time to buy the stake. But a Delhi HC division Bench in June this year sent the matter to an arbitration panel, which is hearing the case.

On October 27, GVK had announced it would raise Rs 7,614 crore by selling 79.1 per cent stake in its airport business to three investors led by Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, PSP Investments of Canada, and the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.

Proceeds from the transaction were to be used by GVK to retire debt of around Rs 5,500 crore of its holding companies and fund the purchase of additional shares in MIAL from two South African entities — Bidvest and Airports Company South Africa. But the transaction is delayed due to lack of regulatory approvals for the acquisition, thus, frustrating Bidvest’s efforts to exit India.

When contacted, an Adani Group spokesperson declined to comment. A GVK Group spokesperson declined to comment as the matter is sub-judice.

But an Adani Group insider said they have funds ready to buy Bidvest stake and close the deal within a week. Earlier, a top official of Adani Group said the group has set aside Rs 10,000 crore for the transaction to buy out all stakeholders in MIAL.

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