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US based Safesea Group has confirmed that it would be bidding for Shipping Corporation of India

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US-based Safesea all set to enter the fray to acquire Shipping Corp of India

US-based Safesea Group has confirmed that it would be bidding for , a move that could set up a contest for the takeover of the Navratna public sector undertaking days ahead of the formal deadline for the submission of initial bids.
“We will bid for SCI. We are completing the documentation,” SV Anchan, chairman of the Safesea Group, said when contacted.

Anchan is an Indian-origin businessman who is based in New Jersey. He started the Safesea Group 14 years back. The company has a fleet of 14 vessels, about the same as

. Anchan confirmed that Safesea had tied up with an international financial institution for its bid. He declined to divulge financial details of the privately owned company.

The government’s department of investment and public asset management has set a February 13 deadline for the submission of expressions of interest for SCI. The parties then have to provide hard copies of supporting documents by March 1.

The Government of India is divesting its entire 67.5% stake in SCI. The successful bidder will also have to make an open offer to acquire a further 26% of shares from the public. The estimated total cost for the successful bidder could top `3,800 crore based on the closing price of SCI’s shares on Thursday.
Global players such as Dubai’s DP World and conglomerate Vedanta are among potential suitors for the company, ET had reported on November 30. India’s Adani Group and Canada’s Fairfax Holdings are also rumoured to be in the fray.

The shipping company is being eyed by suitors mainly for the size and diversity of its fleet. SCI owns a fleet of 70 ships that include oil tankers, container transportation ships and bulk carriers, which move commodities such as coal, iron ore and grain across continents. “It is a professionally run unit. Moreover, they have all types of vessels including Supramax and Panamax carriers,” said Anchan, when asked what triggered his interest in the company.

SCI posted a Rs 302 crore profit on revenue of Rs 4,668 crore for the financial year 2019-20. The company was granted the Navratna status in 2008 for maintaining a track record of consistent profitability and meeting stringent criteria for controlling costs. The company is among four PSUs tagged for privatisation in the ongoing fiscal 2020-21.

Safesea’s list of customers includes Siemens, Rolls-Royce and BASF as per its website. It also provides services to large Indian public sector companies such as

, and NTPC. It has offices in the US, Canada, Denmark, Turkey, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Singapore and India.

“For FY21the GoI has set a very high disinvestment target of Rs 2.1 lakh crore, which in the backdrop of disruptions caused by Covid proved too ambitious to realise. The target for the next fiscal of Rs 1.75 lakh crore may not prove to be unrealistic if public markets continue to be buoyant,” said Rohitashwa Prasad, partner at J Sagar & Associates.

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