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Shipping Corporation employees plan a bid to buy government stake in the carrier

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Some 400 serving and 200 former employees with the support of three Indian investors are considering a bid for Shipping Corporation of India Ltd, which has been lined up for privatisation by the government.

“It was decided on Monday that employees will participate in the expression of interest issued by the government,” a person briefed on the matter said, asking not to be named.

“A working group formed for the purpose is preparing a roadmap on a potential bid; the structure of the bidding special purpose vehicle/consortia is being worked out,” a second person with knowledge of the discussions, said. He too declined to be named.

“All the three investors with whom the employees are in discussions are Indians and one of them is based in India,” he added, without disclosing the names.

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 per cent stake to a strategic buyer.

Potential bidders have time until February 13 to file their interest.

The management/employees of SCI have been allowed to participate in the bid, if they meet the eligibility criteria, including a net worth of at least ₹2,000 core, as applicable to other bidders, according to the preliminary information memorandum issued by DIPAM for the stake sale.

SCI runs a fleet of 59 vessels consisting of 2 container vessels, 13 crude oil carriers, 15 dry bulk carriers, 1 LPG / ammonia carrier, 2 multi-purpose supply vessels, 8 off-shore supply vessels, 13 product tankers and 5 very large crude carriers.

The company has 3,281 employees comprising 2,627 working on board ships and 654 shore-based staff.

“Qualifying for the bid is not a problem but in the request for proposal (RFP) stage, lot of loose ends will have to be tied up… what will be the management structure, investor representation etc,” said a former official aware of the talks on filing an EoI.

“There should be someone responsible and senior who knows the nuances. Normally, you need a consultant or an advisor to help you out with structuring a bid. These are legal and financial matters. I am not saying that it is not doable or don’t do it, I am just watching,” he stated.

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