HAIFA : Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will attend a ceremony here on Tuesday to celebrate the successful entry of the Adani Group in Israel through its acquisition of the Haifa port, which is being seen as a “strategic purchase” and probably the biggest foreign investment in this country in any sector. A consortium of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) and Israel’s Gadot Group won the tender in July last year to privatise the Port of Haifa in Israel for a staggering USD 1.18 billion.
It completed the process of purchase on January 11 this year, following which upgradation work has been going on in full swing at the port. The Indian partner in the consortium holds 70 per cent of the stake while its local partner has 30 per cent.
Gautam Adani, the Founder and Chairman of the Adani Group, will also attend the ceremony at Haifa Port Temporary Cruise Terminal in this northern coastal city of Israel on Tuesday. Prime Minister Netanyahu will also attend the ceremony.
The Israeli Gadot Group is controlled by the Tene foundation and the LBH group and was founded 63 years ago. The group has extensive business in Israel, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium and is leading in the fields of distribution and logistics of chemicals, oils and seeds for industry sectors and private consumption.
The Port of Haifa is the second largest port in Israel in terms of shipping containers and the biggest in shipping tourist cruise ships. The spectrum of dealing with general cargo and cars is expected to grow substantially in the next few years and will receive a special weight in the focus and investments of the company, a spokesperson for the company told PTI.
The consortium offered 4.1 billion shekels (USD 1.18 billion) for the port, 55 per cent more than the second highest bid, catching everyone by surprise including the Israeli government which did not anticipate such a high quote.
“This is a much higher price than the government (of Israel) had first anticipated and has a price-to-earnings ratio of 18 (roughly calculated, based on the average of the past three years). It is as if Adani is saying: Step aside, this is a strategic purchase, and for us the price is less important,” a report in daily Ha’aretz following the bidding process had said.
Local groups involved in the business feel that it is a strategic acquisition by the Indian group, and it was determined to win it.
The Adani-Gadot Group completed the process of purchase on January 11, signing off on documents, after making the required transaction at the Finance Ministry of Israel in Jerusalem attended by the treasury department CEO Ram Belinkov, Gadot CEO, Ofer Linchevski, and Adani group’s representative in Israel Yair Doari.
Adani’s company operates 13 sea terminals in India and controls 24 per cent of India’s maritime commerce.
It has no holdings in the West, so its entry into Israel is a signal for increased maritime traffic between Asia and Europe, and the major Asian players’ need for a hub in the Mediterranean.
“Delighted to win the tender for privatisation of the Port of Haifa in Israel with our partner Gadot [which has a 30 per cent stake in the port]. Immense strategic and historical significance for both nations! Proud to be in Haifa, where Indians led, in 1918, one of the greatest cavalry charges in military history!” Adani had tweeted after winning the bid.
The city of Haifa was liberated from the Ottomans by Indian cavalry regiments in what is described as the last major cavalry campaign in history and the heroic deed has now been included in the curriculum of local history textbooks.
Israel expects that Adani’s entrance on the local scene will now lead to more Indian investment, especially in the fields of renewable energy and defence.
The Adani Group is already said to be collaborating with leading Israeli defence companies on putting up a drone-manufacturing facility in India. There is speculation about its participation also in the construction of a rail link from Haifa Port to Jordan.
After the completion of the purchase of the Haifa port by the Adani-Gadot group, the process of upscaling the port began on January 16 and a 90 meter container crane that stood in the port for over 30 years was brought down in a controlled manner.
All the old cranes will be removed and replaced with advanced technological infrastructure, said the spokesperson for the Adani-Gadot group.
The upgradation of the port facilities is expected to increase trading volume significantly.