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We are passing the baton to Adani Ports, a strong strategic Indian conglomerate: Ocean Sparkle CMD

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HYDERABAD : Having sailed on merchant ships for some eight years, Penukonda Jairaj Kumar, CMD, Ocean Sparkle always felt there was a need for good port management systems in India.

“The privatisation of ports in the country in the mid-1990s provided the right opportunity to enter the sector,” Kumar said.

With the entrepreneurial experience of having run a deep-sea fishing company, Jairaj Kumar along with two of his batchmates from the Marine Engineering College (Kolkata) – Sanjeev Dhawan and Ashwini Sawhney – and chartered accountant R Virender Prasad, started Ocean Sparkle Ltd (OSL) in 1995 with two main objectives – port management and coastal transportation.

“From a humble beginning of managing tugs for ports, we ventured into tug acquisitions based on long term ‘take or pay’ contracts with ports, and today (the company) has a fleet of 75 modern harbour tugs, besides dredgers, pilot launches, barges etc,” Kumar told ET Infra after the promoters signed a deal to sell the company to Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ), India’s biggest private port operating firm, promoted by billionaire businessman Gautam Adani.

With the rapid privatisation and growth of ports, Ocean Sparkle grew from strength to strength and today has operations in 23 ports across India and a few overseas.

Ocean Sparkle is now India’s top marine services company and No. 11 globally, covering the entire gamut of marine support services at ports, from provision of harbour towage operations to dredging, and offshore services like ship-to-shore (STS) and floating production and storage (FPSO) operations.

Though not a listed company, Ocean Sparkle is professionally run with a strong independent board (50%) comprising experts from shipping, ports, finance, legal and banking.

“We are passing on the baton to a strong, strategic Indian conglomerate, instead of a foreign entity, whom OSL had successfully withstood the competition from all these years,” Kumar said, adding, “The deal will give an exit to our investors, who have supported us through the growth of the company.”

“Brand OSL will continue to be India’s premier port management company under the vision of APSEZ,” he said.

While India is known as a large provider of marine manpower to the global shipping industry, Ocean Sparkle took up the responsibility of training manpower in specific skill sets of port management with the motto ‘Excellence through Professional Participation’.

“Today, this ‘Bank of Manpower Resource’ stands tall with over 2,000 personnel,” Kumar said, referring to it as a “great service to the maritime community”.

With customised systems of port management and by creating a structure which promoted ‘accountability with responsibility’, Ocean Sparkle has the track record of ‘safety and efficiency’ with a near zero lost time and accident record.

Ocean Sparkle was also involved in many rescue and salvage operations and protected the environment from ecological disaster.

During the pandemic, the company carried out 15,000 crew changes at various ports in India, which was recognised by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

The management, Kumar said, owes the company’s rise to “all employees past and present without whom the company would not be where it is today”.

Source : Economic Times Infra

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