Rumored suitor of APMT Indian operations shrugs off talk

Rumored suitor of APMT Indian operations shrugs off talk

APM Terminals has a majority stake in the largest container terminal in India's top port.

Contrary to previous Indian media reports, an industry source close to JSW Group told JOC.com that the domestic conglomerate is not in the race to acquire majority stakes held by APM Terminals in concessions at the ports of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Pipavav.

“JSW is not at all interested [in APMT India facilities],” the official said, on condition of anonymity.

Mumbai-headquartered JSW together with expansion-hungry Adani Group had been widely rumored to be the frontrunners for APMT’s speculated divestments that include a 74 percent stake in its flagship Gateway Terminals India at JNPT, with Container Corporation of India (Concor) holding the remainder, and a 43 percent shareholding in Pipavav, a minor multipurpose facility located about 150 nautical miles from the JNPT harbor.

The official, however, refused to confirm or deny if the company had been approached to bid on the APMT India business. That builds on long-running speculation surrounding APMT’s possible exit from the Indian market at a time when rival DP World looks to spend another $1 billion on new infrastructure projects in the emerging Asian economy.

APMT spokesman Tom Boyd previously told JOC.com that the company would not comment on rumors and speculation. “In the normal course of business, APM Terminals’ strategy is to continuously review and optimize its existing global portfolio as well as explore new investment opportunities. We are always looking at opportunities to grow the business and improve shareholder value.”

Amid massive capacity building and aggressive marketing efforts by Adani Group-owned Mundra Port, Pipavav has been struggling to hold onto its share of the northwestern container market, and to remain competitive, it has lately been targeting liquid and roll-on, roll-off cargoes. A 4 percent fall in Pipavav's container traffic in the April-to-June period, quarter to quarter, reflects that growth struggle.

On the other hand, GTI, or APMT Mumbai, has been a profitable venture for the global operator, with throughput up 11.4 percent year over year from April to August, according to new data.

JSW Group is a steel, energy, infrastructure, cement, maritime infrastructure, and construction giant with more than $11 billion annual revenues and 40,000 employees globally. Its maritime interests include a minor port at Jaigarh, near Raigad in Maharashtra State, designed as a captive facility to support its manufacturing needs, and two terminal concessions at the state-owned port of Paradip that primarily handle coal and iron ore shipments. In addition, the group in December clinched a deal with the port of Fujairah for the operation and management of mechanized bulk cargo-handling terminals at the Persian Gulf gateway.

JSW earlier this year also unveiled a plan to invest about Rs. 7,000 crore (approximately $1 billion) over the next three years in port developments, including infrastructure for containerized cargo at Jaigarh, as part of a capacity-building program to meet growing captive needs.