APM Terminals keen to stay anchored to India

P Manoj | Updated on May 16, 2021

Docked: APM Terminals holds a majority 43.01 per cent stake in Gujarat Pipavav Port Ltd   -  VIJAY SONEJI

Morten Engelstoft, Chief Executive Officer of APM Terminals Management BV   -  P MANOJ

Extending 30-year concession for Pipavav key to long-term expansion, says CEO

One of the world’s top container terminal operators, APM Terminals Management BV, will weigh a bid for the container terminal run by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) when it is privatised by the state-run port authority, its chief executive officer has said.

“It is something we will take a look at,” CEO Morten Engelstoft said in an interview. “We are interested in growing the terminal business that we have and that includes investing into markets that we know already and have a good customer base,” he told BusinessLine.

APM Terminals, a unit of Danish transport and logistics giant AP Moller-Maersk Group A/S, runs two facilities in India. The firm holds a majority 43.01 per cent stake in Gujarat Pipavav Port Ltd, one of the two listed port companies in India.

It also owns a majority 74 per cent stake in Gateway Terminals India Pvt Ltd (GTI), one of the five container terminals at JNPT. GTI is also India’s single biggest container terminal in terms of volumes handled.

The ongoing bankruptcy process of the adjacent shipyard to Pipavav port has also caught the attention of the Hague-based company for potential use for port activities.

“We are taking a good look at this facility to see whether this is something that has our interest. We are following the situation to see what is possible,” Engelstoft said in a video interview, adding that no bid had yet been formalised for the yard.

Capacity expansion of Pipavav, India’s first private port, is also on the agenda of APM Terminals, which indicates that it has backed away from a move in 2017 to exit India by selling its two port assets.

“We wish to continue to operate them for the long term. That also means that for the business in Pipavav, we are interested in extending the concession period. We will engage with the authorities to extend the concession,” Engelstoft stated. The 30-year concession for Pipavav ends in 2028.

Extending the concession is the key to expansion.

“When we make investments in our ports/terminals, we would like to have a good return on investments. That also includes there should be time enough left of the concession to ensure that we are getting a proper payback. Large investments will depend on an extension of the concession,” he said.

Pipavav, according to him, is an important part of the firm’s portfolio. “It is a business that I see with us for the long term. So, we are keen to invest in it and improve it,” Engelstoft said, adding that India was a “very interesting market for APM Terminals in the long run”.

“We are keen to continue to be present and will be keen to continue to invest in the country to strengthen our business,” he noted.

JNPT is awaiting the government’s nod to float a tender for privatising the terminal. APM Terminals, though, is not interested in the planned privatisation of state-run rail hauler Container Corporation of India Ltd (Concor), its joint venture partner in the JNPT terminal.

“We are focussed on investments into terminals and therefore not looking at opportunities outside the terminal area. The Group’s logistics and services business are looking to expand these activities globally. Typically, we are not investing directly into owning rail companies,” he said.

On the terminal side, he said, the company depended on good connections and rail services. “Collaborating with whosoever own rail companies is something that is a natural part of our business. Such collaborations with service providers, irrespective of whether they are state-owned or private, will continue,” he added.

Published on May 16, 2021

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