Adani Ports now on course to buy Dighi Port

MUMBAI | Updated on September 21, 2019 Published on September 21, 2019

Lenders’ panel clears APSEZ bid


In a U-turn, the Committee of Creditors (CoC) led by Bank of India has backed the resolution plan placed by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ) to buy the debt-laden Dighi Port Ltd under the bankruptcy and insolvency law.

The decision of the lender’s panel was conveyed by its counsel to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) during a hearing on September 19 on a batch of appeals filed by different parties.

APSEZ, India’s biggest private port operator, is now positioned to buy Dighi Port, which will allow it an entry into Maharashtra, one of the three coastal states in which it does not have a presence. The other two states are Karnataka and West Bengal.

APSEZ’s resolution will have to be ratified by the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), where the bankruptcy case involving Dighi Port is being heard since June last year.

Dighi Port owes some Rs 3,074.51 crore (including interest and penal interest) to a clutch of 16 banks led by Bank of India.

On January 31, the CoC had rejected the resolution plan submitted by APSEZ. Instead, it cleared the plan submitted by state-run Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) the next day, though its bid was lower than the one placed by APSEZ.

APSEZ had termed the lenders’ decision to reject its resolution plan as “wrongful and illegal” and had filed an appeal in NCLAT.

Gaurav Banerji, Senior Advocate representing the Committee of Creditors, told NCLAT on Thursday that it has approved the plan submitted by APSEZ with a 99.68 per cent vote. He also informed that the proposal under Section 12A of the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code submitted by Vishal Vijay Kalantri (the erstwhile promoter of Dighi Port), according to an earlier order of the Tribunal, “was also considered and was not accepted”.

On May 8, NCLT had approved the resolution plan submitted by JNPT with certain conditions, and asked JNPT to file an affidavit conveying its acceptance or rejection of the modifications.

During a hearing on July 2, JNPT told NCLT that the modifications suggested by the Tribunal were “not acceptable” to it, forcing NCLT to suggest that “one more opportunity be given to all the bidders so that maximisation of value of the corporate debtor can be achieved”.

Dighi Port Ltd, the entity that runs a private port in Maharashtra’s Raigad district, was dragged into bankruptcy proceedings under the bankruptcy law last year, after NCLT ordered the start of a corporate insolvency resolution process on a petition brought by an operational creditor – DBM Geotechnics and Constructions Pvt Ltd.

Dighi Port owed some Rs 30 crore to DBM Geotechnics for constructing multi-purpose berths 1 and 2 at Dighi and berth No 3 at Agardanda, also in Maharashtra.

Dighi Port Ltd was promoted by Balaji Infra Projects Ltd and IL&FS Ltd.

Balaji Infra and IL&FS were awarded a 50-year concession by the Maharashtra government in 2002 to develop and operate a port on the banks of Rajpuri Creek in three phases. The first phase of the port, with a capacity to load 30 million tonnes of cargo (mt), has started partial operations from two multi-purpose berths that can load coal, bauxite, steel coils and containers.

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Published on September 21, 2019
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