Omkara Assets Reconstruction Pvt Ltd has nominated long-time Adani Group loyalists Ameet Desai and Surender Kumar Tuteja as its representatives on the board of Karaikal Port Pvt Ltd, lending credence to whispers that Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ) has bought into the company that runs the all-weather port in Puducherry.

In November last year, Edelweiss Asset Reconstruction Co Ltd (EARC) has sold the debt of ₹2,059.24 crore along with the 11 per cent equity it held in Karaikal Port Pvt Ltd to Omkara Assets Reconstruction Pvt Ltd for ₹1,500 crore, which sources in the ports industry believe was backed by the Adani Group.

Ameet Desai, a former executive director and Chief Financial Officer at Adani Enterprises Ltd, sits on the board of many Adani Group companies. These include Adani Aerospace and Defence Ltd, Adani Defence Systems and Technologies Ltd, Adani Naval Defence Systems and Technologies Ltd, Adani Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, Adani Cements Ltd and Adani Logistics Ltd.

Tuteja, a former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, is a director on the board of Adani Logistics Ltd.

The first meeting of the board of Karaikal Port after the induction of Desai and Tuteja was held on Wednesday, sources briefed on the matter said.

Swiss challenge auction

Last year, Edelweiss ARC launched a so-called Swiss challenge auction for Karaikal Port’s debt based on an offer from Omkara ARC, which is understood to have had the backing of APSEZ. The Swiss challenge auction failed to receive any counter bids and the debt was sold to Omkara ARC.

Chennai-based Marg Ltd holds 45 per cent stake in Karaikal Port Pvt Ltd, while four private equity funds — Ascent Capital Advisors India Pvt Ltd, Jacob Ballas Capital India Pvt Ltd, Affirma Capital India and GIP India — together hold 44 per cent stake.

Karaikal Port runs the all-weather port developed on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) format under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode on a 30-year concession awarded by the Puducherry government. The port started operations in June 2009.

Omkara ARC declined to comment. APSEZ did not respond to a mail seeking comment.

The Karaikal deal will add to APSEZ’s presence on India’s eastern seaboard where it acquired Krishnapatnam and Gangavaram ports in the last two years. APSEZ also runs ports/terminals at Dhamra, Kattupalli, Ennore and Visakhapatnam.

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