Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd. (APSEZ) has completed the acquisition of debt-laden Dighi port for ₹650 crore under the bankruptcy law.
The acquisition has received all regulatory approvals, multiple sources said.
The resolution plan submitted by APSEZ also include settlement of unpaid dues of ₹11.38 crore to the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB), the Maharashtra government agency tasked with developing and regulating ports in the western State.
With the acquisition of Dighi port, APSEZ has expanded its presence to eight of the nine Indian coastal states. The only coastal state where it does not have a presence is West Bengal.
APSEZ, India’s biggest private port operator, paid an upfront amount of ₹ 650 crore to a clutch of 16 banks led by Bank of India, a 78.7 per cent haircut to the ₹ 3,056.96 crore that Dighi Port owes to these financial creditors, making it one of the cheapest deals in the ports sector.
The liquidation value set by the valuers for Dighi Port was ₹ 356.30 crore.
The acquisition price should, however, be seen from the context of Dighi’s present status with the depth to handle only 40,000-tonne ships.
The biggest challenge in turning around the port is its lack of depth and back-up rail and road connectivity to evacuate cargo.
While APSEZ promoter Gautam Adani has always aimed at running bigger ports, Dighi can be turned around into a mid-sized port if it can get 8-10 mt of cargo such as coal, liquids and steel with a cluster of warehouses and industries coming up in the vicinity.
For this, APSEZ may have to spend another ₹ 3,000 crore to dig the port’s channel deeper and address road and rail connectivity infrastructure.
Dighi is located in the same district as Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) – India’s biggest container port.
Dighi marked the first instance of a port being hauled to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), which was set up to oversee the bankruptcy law aimed at fixing the country’s mounting bad bank loans.
Dighi Port was originally promoted by Balaji Infra Projects Ltd and IL&FS Ltd.
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