Dighi Port, a Greenfield private port 40 nautical miles from Mumbai, is seeking tie-ups with international port operators and investors to raise fresh capital to finance its expansion plans.

“We are having discussions with a couple of strategic investors and hope to wrap up a deal in the next three months, said Chairman and Managing Director Vijay Kalantri.

Dighi, which has so far invested about ₹18,00 crore, hopes to raise $100 million (about ₹600 crore) from international investors, said Kalantri during a media trip to the port in the weekend.

The focus now is to establish a 50-km link to the Konkan rail network and upgrade the road linking the national highway so as to ensure seamless flow of cargo to an from the port, said Kalantri. This will require and investment of over ₹1,500 crore, he added.

Starting operations in 2011, Dighi currently handles cargoes such as coal, bauxite and steel. Korean steelmaker Posco has set up a warehouse and a distribution centre at the port.

Last fiscal, the port handled one million tonnes of cargo and the current year target is three million tonnes. “This is just a beginning. Large importers of bulk cargoes have shown interest in Dighi. We hope to get some foodgrains shipments soon,” said Kalantri.

Of the five proposed berths, only two are operational, the remaining three are expected come up in two years.

Liquid cargo

By next year, Dighi will be handling liquid cargo, as a tank farm to store petroleum products and chemicals is expected to be ready by then, he said.

Dighi also has the permission to set up an LNG terminal and is in talks with leading LNG importers on the scope of investments.

Kalantri said in terms of capacity, Dighi, which is linked to the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, will be the largest non-major port in Maharashtra.

Dighi, jointly promoted by Balaji Infra Projects Ltd, IL&FS and Maharashtra Maritime Board, also has equity investment by Tara Fund, an infrastructure PE fund.

The port, located on the bank of Rajpuri creek in the Raigad District of Maharashtra, has a draught of 12 metres, capable of handling large vessels.

Public issue

To a question on going for a public issue of shares, Kalantri said, Dighi may go for an IPO by 2016-17, when the port is expected to break-even with an expected throughput of 30 million tonnes. “But our stake (Balaji Infra, the main promoter) will not go below 51 per cent,” he said.

Port analysts said Dighi has over ₹1,000-crore debt and the port has been scouting for investors for fresh funds. The promoters may also go in for dilution of their equity before the public issue, they said.