Haifa Port is going to be Adani Ports’ biggest revenue generator outside India
HAIFA : Israel’s strategic Haifa Port will be Adani Ports & SEZ’s (APSEZ) biggest revenue generator outside India, a senior executive said.
APSEZ is also building an incubation centre at the port there which will be the biggest startup accelerator for the group, said the executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
India’s largest port operator is first focussed on the city side development of the Haifa port, which would include the setting up of convention centres and hotels apart from the incubation centre, said the executive.
APSEZ is in talks with multiple partners including cruise operators to bolster tourist arrivals to the port, he added.
It is also working closely with local municipal bodies to make the masterplan for city side development, he said. The company has 800 employees at the Haifa port including senior management and port workers.
APSEZ, in a 70:30 consortium with Israeli chemical company Gadot Group, had won the tender for privatising the port at $1.18 billion. It took over the port in January.
Haifa is the second largest port and one of the three major ports in Israel. Apart from operating container cargo, it is the biggest hub for tourist cruises in the region. Over the years, Haifa has become increasingly critical for Israel’s thawing political relations with Gulf states, which have led to it harbouring ambitious trade ties with the region.
“Strategically it is very well located. It is the eastern most harbour in the Mediterranean. Everyone wants to do economic activity there. There are future plans to connect the Middle East to the Mediterranean starting at UAE and concluding at Haifa via rail route, which will connect Saudi Arabia and Jordan on the rail corridor,” said the APSEZ executive.
Haifa port also is strategically located for transhipment of cargo through the Mediterranean Sea through the UAE to ports in Europe. It provides an alternative route to the current more expensive one that goes via the Suez Canal.
“Right now, every ship sailing through the Mediterranean has to pass through the Suez Canal. Prices keep going up. So, when the port is modernised and the railway connectivity is developed, it will reduce transit time and make an alternate gateway to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE and to Europe,” he added.
Pramit Pal Chaudhury, head of India practice at the Eurasia Group, said the alternative route and operations would increase efficiency of transportation by 60%.
Cargo railway lines are being planned to connect the UAE to Israel via Jordan and potentially Saudi Arabia, and Haifa would be integrated into the larger network. Last year, Chinese rival Shanghai International Port Group opened a container terminal just next door.
Haifa has a deep Indian connection. In 1918, Indian soldiers played a key role in the Battle of Haifa which ended the 400-year-old Turkish rule on the land.
The Adani Group has lost more than $110 billion in market value since late last month after a report from American short seller Hindenburg Research accused it of corporate fraud. APSEZ lost 25% of the value and the shares closed at ₹583 on the BSE Tuesday.
APSEZ operates 13 ports in India and handles 24% of the country’s cargo. Earlier this year, it became the first Indian port operator to take over a Sri Lankan port.