Shipping Corporation sale: Great Eastern, Safesea Group join race by submitting EoIs

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on March 01, 2021

The government has received at least five expressions of interest, including from the Great Eastern Shipping Co Ltd and US-based Safesea Group, for the privatisation of state-run carrier Shipping Corporation of India Ltd.

Vedanta Ltd and a consortium of Foresight Offshore Drilling Ltd S.A.- Belgium-listed Exmar NV and Dubai-based shipping company GMS DMCC have filed their EoIs.

Hyderabad-based Megha Engineering & Infrastructures Ltd is also understood to have submitted an EoI, official sources said.

The last date for filing expression of interest by potential bidders ended on Monday.

In December, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) called expression of interest to privatise Shipping Corporation by selling the government’s 63.75 percent stake to a strategic buyer.

SCI runs a fleet of 59 vessels consisting of 2 container vessels, 13 crude oil carriers, 15 dry bulk carriers, 1 LPG / ammonia carrier, 2 multi-purpose supply vessels, 8 off-shore supply vessels, 13 product tankers and 5 very large crude carriers (VLCCs).

The company has 3,281 employees comprising 2,627 working on board ships and 654 shore-based staff.

The deal does not include the non-core assets (real estate) of the company located at Mumbai and Kolkata.

Hiring a consultant

Government officials briefed on the strategic disinvestment process said SCI has delayed picking a consultant to help with the separation of the non-core assets.

On November 6, the SCI management sought bids to hire a consultant for undertaking de-merger/disposal of its non-core assets (real estate) ahead of sale and to carry out corporate restructuring for better operational performance of the navratna company.

But, this process was scrapped and a fresh tender was issued on February 23 to hire a consultant for advising, undertaking and implementing undertaking the end-to-end process of de-merger/hive off/transfer of SCI’s non-core assets and assets held for sale such as the joint ventures — Irano Hind Shipping Company and the SAIL SCIL Shipping Pvt Ltd.

There are concerns within the government that the delay in finalising a consultant for the task could affect the timeline of the transaction, a government official said.

“The process of segregating the non-core assets from the company is running in parallel to the divestment process and is expected to close before the transaction. The cost of this transfer shall be borne by the company (SCI). It is further clarified that in case the divestiture falls beyond the divestment process the long stop date (final date of completion of the de-merger) shall be mentioned in the share purchase agreement,” DIPAM said in response to a query from a potential bidder.

Published on March 01, 2021

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