The GVK-led consortium has been running India’s second-busiest airport since 2006 and is building a second one in Navi Mumbai for about `16,000 crore.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has thrown its weight behind Bid Services Division (Mauritius), an arm of Bidvest, in its stake sale dispute with equity partner GVK group.
The AAI on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that GVK Airport Holdings has lost the opportunity to exercise the right of first refusal (ROFR) for buying out the 13.5% stake in Mumbai International Airport (MIAL) as the time period to exercise that choice has expired.
Advocate Digvijay Rai said it is now up to the AAI to decide on acquiring the South African firm’s stake. According to the contract, if the AAI doesn’t purchase the shares, its consortium partners can sell to a third party.
According to sources, Bidvest has been in talks with infrastructure major Adani group for sale. GVK owns 50.5% of MIAL, while the AAI owns 26%, Bidvest 13.5% and ACSA owns 10%.
Bidvest claimed that GVK had to complete the acquisition of its 162 million equity shares in MIAL within 30 days of the offer. In this case, the offer was made on March 4, 2019. On the other hand, GVK argued that 30-day clause under the share purchase agreement begins after approval of transaction from competent authorities.
Advocate Kartik Nayar, representing GVK Airport Holdings, said the company has invoked the arbitration clause against Bidvest over this dispute. GVK said the transaction requires approval from the government, Competition Commission of India and lenders of Bidvest.
Debt-laden GVK group on April 2 had moved the high court seeking to stop Bidvest from selling its stake in MIAL to a third party. The court had asked GVK and Bidvest to amicably resolve the dispute which was unsuccessful. The hearing is likely to continue on May 6.
GVK had a debt of around `12,854 crore at the end of March 2018. The GVK-led consortium has been running India’s second-busiest airport since 2006 and is building a second one in Navi Mumbai for about `16,000 crore.
On April 19, GVK group subsidiaries GVK Airport Developers and GVK Airport Holdings signed a term sheet and exclusivity agreement with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the National Investment & Infrastructure Fund for investment in new shares in GVK Airport Holdings equating to a 49% stake.
GVK had initiated a process to identify and select preferred investors to raise capital to reduce or refinance debt obligations of up to `5,750 crore, the statement had said.