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Monday, Feb 18, 2002

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Gesco board clears plan to bid for SCI stake

Our Bureau

NEW DELHI, Feb. 17

GREAT Eastern Shipping Company Ltd (Gesco) has decided to file an Expression of Interest (EoI) for acquiring 51 per cent of the Government's stake in Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), which is being put up for privatisation through strategic sale.

"The board of Gesco has approved a proposal put up by the company's management to bid for SCI stake,'' company sources said. The board met in Mumbai on Sunday to decide on submitting an EoI for acquiring SCI, the sources said.

The last date for filing an EoI with the Union Government for acquiring strategic control of SCI is Monday.

Gesco was non-committal on whether it would take on a foreign shipping company as its partner while bidding for the SCI stake. But the market is rife with speculation that it would partner Teekay Shipping of Canada for this purpose.

Company sources, however, said that Gesco fulfils the qualification criteria set forth by the Union Government on its own.

"So, technically we can bid on our own without the need for forging a tie-up with a foreign or any other Indian partner.''

Gesco is the largest domestic private shipping company and acquisition of SCI would enable the company gain access to a good number of Suezmax, Aframax and product tankers owned by it.

Essar Shipping Ltd, the other major private shipping company, has also decided to enter the race for acquiring SCI, company officials said.

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