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Hyderabad, June 24 The Rs 586-crore Seaways Group is in an advanced stage of negotiations to conclude a joint venture with Bibby Line Group of UK, a 200-year-old shipping company, specialising in offshore activities.

Under the joint venture, Seaways Group and Bibby will float a special purpose vehicle to cater to the offshore sector in the oil and gas industry.

The move is one of the major diversifications planned by the Hyderabad-based group, which is into shipping, logistics and international trade, according to Capt P.V.K Mohan, Chairman and Managing Director.

The group, which has its flagship company — Seaways Shipping — is also, as part of its expansion plans, shortly foraying into capital dredging and setting up integrated warehouses and container freight stations across various cities in the country, he said.

To fund these expansion programmes, the group has also brought in a Rs 120-crore investment from IDFC Private Equity. The investment by IDFC PE Fund II, a $440-million, US-based fund with focus on infrastructure projects, is the first infusion of funds into the closely held Seaways Group.

While not divulging the equity stake divested to IDFC at this juncture Capt. Mohan told Business Line that the funds would be utilised for the expansion initiatives.

The company also announced the acquisition of two German ships for $35 million to strengthen its presence in the growing Indian shipping market, especially in feeder vessel services, he said. The two sister vessels MV “Seaways Venture” and MV “Seaways Valour” — of 1,164 TEUs capacity (twenty feet equivalent units), with 125 reefer plugs each — will be inducted shortly into the existing services on East and West coast of India connecting with Bangladesh and Myanmar, the company said in a press release.

The vessels will cater to both export-import and coastal cargo movement requirements of Indian trade, while also meeting the needs of MLOs (Main Line Operators).

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 25, 2008)
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