Metals and mining magnate Anil Agarwal is said to be in the race to acquire Shipping Corporation of India Ltd (SCI) from the government.

Metals and mining magnate Anil Agarwal is said to be in the race to acquire Shipping Corporation of India Ltd (SCI) from the government, said multiple sources.

Due diligence

The billionaire founder of Vedanta Resources is believed to have carried out due diligence of India’s biggest ocean carrier, along with three other bidding groups, said an industry executive and one of the sources, asking not to be identified.

BusinessLine could not independently verify whether Agarwal has bid under the banner of Vedanta Group or through the fund he has set up in partnership with Centricus Asset Management Ltd, a London-based global investment firm focussed on advisory, private equity and asset management. The fund was created to invest in stake sale of public sector undertakings.

Agarwal’s participation in the privatisation of Shipping Corporation has not been reported in the media.

Vedanta did not respond to multiple e-mails seeking comment. RBSA Capital Advisors, the government’s transaction advisor, did not respond to a mail seeking comment.

Agarwal joins US-based Safesea Group, Hyderabad-based Megha Engineering & Infrastructures, and London-based Foresight Group International for the deal.

Megha Engineering & Infrastructures is backed by Interups, the New York-based fund led by Indian-born Laxmi Prasad.

The Foresight consortium comprises the group’s flagship company Foresight Offshore Drilling Limited; Belgium-listed shipping company Exmar; and Dubai-based shipping company GMS DMCC.

“Agarwal has emerged the dark horse in the fray,” said the source. The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), the asset sale ministry has initiated the process of privatising Shipping Corporation of India by selling the government’s 63.75 percent stake to a strategic buyer.

Non-core assets

On August 3, the board of SCI approved the scheme of arrangement for the de-merger of non-core assets of SCI. Shareholders will get one equity share each in the resulting company for each share held by them in the de-merged company (SCI), according to the de-merger scheme.

The company formed to manage the non-core assets will be listed on the stock exchanges.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways approved SCI’s draft scheme of arrangement for the de-merger of its non-core assets.

SCI runs a fleet of 59 ships of various cargo types and capacities.

Source : The Hindu Businessline