Fairfax’s Prem Watsa cast eyes wider on India infrastructure

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on February 21, 2021

Prem Watsa. File photo   -  REUTERS

Scanning railway station re-development and port opportunities

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, the Toronto, Ontario-based financial holding company owned by Indian born businessman Prem Watsa, is prepping up for a bigger play in the Indian infrastructure sector beyond airports such as railway station re-development and port development and operation.

Multiple people familiar with the plan said that Fairfax through its newly created wholly owned Indian unit, Anchorage Infrastructure Investments Holdings Limited (Anchorage), has applied on nine railway station re-development tenders for New Delhi, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Gwalior, Nagpur, Tirupathi, among others.

“Anchorage will be the flagship company and platform for investing in companies and businesses and for bidding on all infrastructure tenders including the next round of airports to be auctioned by the government,” one of the persons, a banker with knowledge of the matter, said.

Fairfax has also started consolidating all its India infrastructure investments under Anchorage. As a first step in this direction, it is in the process of transferring the entire stake in Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL) to Anchorage. The stake transfer has received approval from Indian regulators and existing shareholders of BIAL, an official with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) said.

Fairfax India Holdings Corporation, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, FIH Mauritius Investments Ltd, held the 54% interest in BIAL which runs the Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru, India’s first greenfield airport built on public-private partnership (PPP) model.

OMERS Infrastructure is the largest shareholder in Fairfax India Holdings, an investment holding company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. OMERS is also in the process of acquiring a direct 11.5% stake in Anchorage for about Rs950 crore or about $134 million.

Omers Infrastructure invests globally in infrastructure assets on behalf of OMERS, the defined benefit pension plan for municipal employees in the Province of Ontario, Canada.

“Ports is another sector where Fairfax could be looking at for potential investments,” said a second person, a consultant, aware of the plan.

Container handling terminals would be the “perfect thing” for potential port investment and Fairfax is “keeping an eye out for it”, he said.

Currently, much of Fairfax’s attention and focus are being taken up by the railway station re-development bids.

FIH Mauritius Investments Ltd holds 48.54% stake in Seven Islands Shipping Company Ltd, India’s third biggest ocean carrier by capacity.

Fairfax also owns 51 per cent stake in Saurashtra Freight Private Limited, which runs the largest container freight station (CFS) servicing Mundra port, India’s biggest private port, in Gujarat.

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Published on February 21, 2021
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