Posco, JNPT, Adani, JSW Infrastructure in race for debt-laden Dighi Port

Debt-laden Dighi Port has received expression of interest( EOI) from 10 parties including Sanjana Jindal-led JSW Infrastructure and Gautam Adani-led Adani Ports among domestic private port companies. 

"There are another three private equity entities, two more overseas players along with DP World and South Korean company POSCO and JNPT (Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust) bidding for Dighi," sources close to the development told Business Standard.

"Initially there were 11 entities that expressed interest but one of them got disqualified last minute," informed the source.

Dighi is located in Raigad district of Maharashtra, about 170 km from Mumbai by road. The port is being developed by Balaji Infra Projects, under a 50-year concession agreement from the state’s maritime board.

Balaji Infra has 51.01 per cent in the port company. Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) has 39.37 per cent. The balance 5.46 per cent is with Tara India Fund III, a special purpose vehicle. Dighi got a ‘default’ category rank from CARE Ratings in April last year. It has seen only two million tonnes of capacity being utilised, of the 30 mt installed. 

The debt on Dighi's books is nearly Rs 16 billion and Bank of India is the lead lender. IL&FS, besides holding a stake in the port entity, is also one of the lenders. Balaji Infra is owned by Vijay Kalantri, the chairman and managing director of Dighi Port Ltd.

 The port has land of 1,600 acres and an oil tank farm facility. Dabhol apart, it is the only port in Maharashtra with all permissions in place for setting up a Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal. 

Part of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and National Investment & Manufacturing Zone, it is considered an attractive investment opportunity.

Steel coil, cement, fertiliser, bauxite and coal are part of the cargo handled at Dighi. There is potential for hinterland connectivity with the automobiles, chemical, sugar and food processing industries nearby.

Poor road connectivity is the main reason why the port's utilisation has not picked up over last seven to eight years, said sources close to the development.

"Bids would be opened on 10 October," informed the source.

BSR Affiliates, part of KPMG is the resolution professional for the port entity.

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