Adani Group outsmarts Jindal’s JSW Group to clinch Tajpur port
The Adani Group has won the bid to build Bengal’s first greenfield port in more than half a century.
The Adanis beat the rival bid from Sajjan Jindal’s JSW Group by a whisker in a two-horse race.
The price bid for the tender, floated by implementing agency West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC), was opened on Wednesday in the presence of the two bidders: Adani Port & Special Economic Zone and JSW Infrastructure Ltd.
Multiple industry sources confirmed that Adani outbid Jindal by a wafer-thin margin to clinch the port development contract. The government officials, however, were tightlipped about the outcome.
The tender result will now be placed before the Bengal cabinet which will take a final call on the matter. The formal announcement is likely to be made by chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
While JSW Infrastructure Ltd, owned by industrialists Sajjan Jindal and family, offered to pay 0.23 per cent of the gross revenue realised from the port, APSEZ offered to pay a modestly higher amount — 0.25 per cent of the gross revenue — to the government.
Accordingly, APSEZ has been declared as the H1 (highest bidder) for the greenfield port on design, build, finance operate and transfer basis.
Tajpur will be the second port project that the Adani Group will manage in Bengal. It recently took up modernisation and operation of a berth in Haldia. The Group also has a sizable presence through food company Adani Wilmar, which recently acquired a rice mill in Burdwan. The Group also has city gas distribution licences in certain parts of Bengal in partnership with Indian Oil Corporation.
The Bengal government had sought a request for qualification and proposal on October 18 last year. About 10 companies, including DP World and Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, Calcutta, had participated in the first pre-bid meeting. But only two companies finally stumped up their bids on February 15.
However, the tender was cancelled and a short second call was made seeking fresh bids for a short duration between March 11 and March 14. The government sources said it was willing to give more time to prospective bidders to toss their hats into the ring even as the tender condition stipulated more than one bid would be enough to go ahead.
APSEZ and JSW Infra were the only two bidders in the second round. The technical bids were opened on March 16 and both parties qualified to submit their financial bids. The price bid was opened a week later and the H1 bidder was discovered.
“All one can say that the Tajpur port project will go ahead and Bengal is going to be the real winner,” a government source said without disclosing the result.
Industry observers said the Adani Group was the favourite to win the contract given its experience in port development. The top management has been extremely keen to invest in Bengal.
Adani group chairman Gautam Adani, Asia’s second richest man, met Mamata Banerjee during the tender period to discuss business proposals in the state on December 2. Karan Adani, his son and APSEZ CEO, also met the chief minister months later.
Adani will get 125 acres of seafront land for the port development and another 1,000 acres, situated 4 kilometres away, for port-linked industrial development.
The state government will help it build road and railway links. However, the Adani Group will have to get the requisite environment clearances from the Centre.