DP World set to exit Mundra terminal

Written by Anil Sasi | Subhomoy Bhattacharjee | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 13 2012, 15:57pm hrs
DPDubai government-owned DP World is set to exit its container handling terminal at Mundra Port. (Reuters)
Bringing an end to a rocky relationship, the Dubai government-owned DP World, the worlds fourth-largest port operator, is set to exit its container handling terminal at the Adani-owned Mundra Port, Indias largest private port.

The DP World-owned Mundra International Container Terminal (MICT) operates one of the two container handling facilities at Mundra Port, which is Indias third-biggest container port after Jawaharlal Nehru Port and Chennai Port.

Sources said the exit would bring to an end the bitter relationship between the Adani Group and DP World that saw an extended court battle. It also terminates the lease early into the concession period of 99 years. When contacted, an Adani spokesperson said they had no comments to offer as the case was sub judice.

Besides Mundra, DP World operates container berths at four other ports in the country Nhava Sheva, Chennai, Vishakhapatnam and Kochi. Mundra Ports two operational container handling facilitiesone run by DP World and the other by the Adani Group itself can together load up to 2.5 million standard containers a year.

DP World officials had held discussions with the Adani Group about two months back for an out-of-court settlement. An email sent to DP World elicited no response at the time of going to press. One of the contentious issues in the break up could be the terms to terminate the lease agreement.

In 2003, the Adani Group sold the first container terminal at Mundra Port to British port operator P&O Ports for $195 million (R768.3 crore). The Mundra terminal came into DP Worlds ownership after it acquired P&O Ports in February 2006.

However, the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), the state maritime regulator, had termed the takeover illegal as its permission wasnt sought. After the takeover of P&O, DP World had argued that there was no condition in the contract that required prior permission from GMB before taking over of the terminal.

Subsequently, through a notice issued on November 8, 2007, the Adani Group moved to terminate the contract with DP World and start discussions on asset transfer. In December 2007, DP World resorted to legal recourse to prevent the Adani Group from terminating the contract. DP World and the Adani Group were also locked in a separate legal battle over rights to operate a second container terminal at the port.