Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Reliance buys 90% stake in Positra port & SEZ



AHMEDABAD: Will Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance help the much-touted Rs
6,000-crore Positra port and SEZ project finally sail through? Reliance
has picked up 90% stake in the project, which was originally being
promoted by Nikhil Gandhi’s SKIL. What’s more, the Gujarat Maritime
Board (GMB) has put the Positra port and SEZ project, the first SEZ
project to be conceived in India, on the fast track. Last week, GMB
wrote to the Gujarat government saying the Gujarat Ports &
Infrastructure Development (GPIDCL), the investment arm of GMB, should
be allowed to enter into supplementary MoU with SKIL.

The Gujarat Positra Port (GPPCL), the company which was incorporated in
1998 to develop the project near Dwarka, has already shown its
preparedness to deposit Rs 15 crore for land acquisition by GMB which
may be subsequently leased to Positra Port Project. Sources said the
promoters are also negotiating with financial companies such as
Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS), International
Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank arm, USA’s Indus Capital, New
York Life Insurance and Jacob Ballas USA, who have shown interest in
investing in the project.

When contacted Reliance officials confirmed the development but refused
to divulge details. “We have enough on our plate at this moment. Hence
investments in Positra port has not been chalked out so far,” sources in
the company told ET. Originally, Positra port was proposed to be
developed under the joint sector as per state government’s 1995 port
policy. One of the most hyped projects, Positra had even attracted
players like Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation. The project was delayed due
to a public interest litigation filed in the Gujarat HC and later on in
the SC.

In between, GMB wrote to Sea King on a number of times regarding the
status of the project. In August 2006, the GPIDCL board resolved that a
proposal may be sent to Ports & Transport Department to accord
permission to sign a supplementary MoU with the developers, as the terms
of MoU has expired and that permission to enter into shareholders’
agreement may also be sought after taking legal opinion from experts
hired by GMB,” said a source.


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