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Great Eastern pips SCI to become India’s top ship owner by fleet size

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The Great Eastern Shipping Co Ltd has overtaken Shipping Corporation of India Ltd (SCI) to become India’s biggest ship owner by fleet size but ceded the higher market capitalisation slot to SCI as its scrip galloped in the run-up to the issue of expression of interest for the privatisation of the state-run carrier.

SCI has been ranked India’s biggest ship owner by fleet size for years.

At Tuesday’s closing price on the Bombay Stock Exchange, SCI had a market cap of ₹3,994 crore at ₹85.75 a share while Great Eastern’s market cap was ₹3,858 crore at ₹262.55 a share.

Market cap

Despite having a higher share price, the market cap of Great Eastern Shipping is lower than SCI mainly because of the lesser number of equity shares – 14,69,66,484 to SCI’s 46,57,99,010.

The last time, SCI’s market cap was higher than Great Eastern was in 2011.

In terms of fleet size, Great Eastern now owns 69 ships compared to SCI’s 59.

SCI’s 59 ships translate into a total tonnage of 5.29 million dead weight tonnes (DWT), representing 35 per cent of India’s total tonnage. DWT refers to the cargo carrying capacity of a ship.

In comparison, Great Eastern’s 69 ships have a tonnage of 3.86 million DWT (excluding the four oil drilling rigs), accounting for a 25 per cent share of the country’s shipping tonnage.

The consolidated revenue of SCI for the first half of FY21 was ₹2,055.30 crore, while that of Great Eastern was ₹1,930.67 crore.

SCI’s fleet of 59 ships includes two container ships, 13 crude oil carriers, 15 dry bulk carriers, one liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) / ammonia carrier, ten off-shore supply vessels, 13 product carriers and five very large crude carriers.

Great Eastern owns 69 ships comprising 11 crude oil tankers, 17 product tankers, 5 LPG carriers, 13 dry bulk carriers, 19 off-shore vessels and four oil drilling rigs.

Second-hand market

Unlike SCI, the Great Eastern Shipping is very active in the second-hand sale-purchase market, buying nine ships since FY18 and selling seven ships for further trading/scrapping.

“Despite having greater financial freedom that comes with its ‘navratna’ status, SCI has stayed clear of buying second-hand ships for various reasons, one of which is to avoid the glare of the government auditor,” a shipping industry executive said.

SCI has purchased just three ships since FY18, incidentally all second-hand ships, for the first time. The last ship to be added to its fleet was a very large gas carrier in September 2017.

SCI sold 9 ships since FY18, mostly for scrapping.

On December 22, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) invited expression of interest to privatise Shipping Corporation by selling the government’s 63.75 percent stake to a strategic buyer.

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