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Key member deboards Foresight-led consortium eyeing Shipping Corporation

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MUMBAI : A Foresight-led consortium that is among government-approved bidders shortlisted to bid for Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) has cracked as a key member of the consortium, Belgium-based Exmar NV, has pulled out.

“It is correct that we have put our part of the consortium for the possible purchase of SCI on hold,” Jens Ismar, Director at Exmar NV, said in an emailed response to queries. “We feel this project could be an interesting business proposition with an interesting potential especially on the gas side. We have, though due to other priorities, decided to leave this for the time being.”

London-based Foresight Group had put together a three-member consortium in March to bid for Shipping Corporation of India. The third member is Dubai-based GMS DMCC.

The consortium had submitted an expression of interest and was subsequently shortlisted in May. It was also given access to the virtual data room containing details of financials and other sensitive data of SCI in July.

Foresight Group’s founder, NRI businessman Ravi Mehrotra, has stated that if his company wins the bid for SCI, it will transform the company into a gas transporter. However, industry sources said that Foresight’s bid was relying heavily on Exmar’s gas transportation expertise that it would bring to the consortium. Mehrotra also owns the Pavers England footwear brand in India.

Foresight denied there was any change to its consortium when contacted. “We wish to clarify that there has been no change in our consortium and it remains the same till date,” said Laxmi Pillai, group head-governance and corporate compliance at Foresight Group. At least two other bidders including US-based Safesea and Hyderabad-based Megha Engineering have got government approval to bid for SCI after they submitted expressions of interest to participate in the privatisation of the marine transport company.

SCI’s shares have risen nearly 40% since August 23 on anticipation of its disinvestment. Its shares gained 0.38% to close at Rs 132.85 apiece on the BSE Thursday, giving the company a market capitalization of Rs 6,188.14 crore.

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