Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Plan to sell shares in Bengaluru airport divides ministers

Bengaluru: A proposal by Canadian firm Fairfax to buy up a 10 per cent stake in the Bengaluru International Airport Limited held by the Indian GVK Group has brought into the open differences between two senior Congress ministers in Karnataka, R V Deshpande and D K Shivakumar. Energy Minister Shivakumar, also chairman of the campaign committee for the Congress for the 2018 assembly elections, has written to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah questioning the proposal for GVK to sell the last of its stake to Fairfax. Industries Minister R V Deshpande, whose ministry holds 13 per cent in the project, has countered that the sale of the stake is a business decision by companies and the state cannot stop it.
In a letter to the chief minister earlier this month, Shivakumar said that the GVK Group must not be allowed to sell the 10 per cent stake it still holds — from an original 43 per cent, it had already sold 33 per cent to Fairfax India in 2016 — because this would leave the project without any experts in infrastructure when the airport needs more development.
“The Fairfax Group is only a financial investor and has never operated or maintained any international airport. If the GVK Group exits by selling their stake to a foreign company as proposed, then BIAL will be left with no one among the shareholders who have such an experience and expertise as required by the shareholders agreement,” Shivakumar wrote. He has asked the CM to initiate action to ensure the GVK Group stays as an investor and to “immediately put on hold their proposal to sell the remaining 10 per cent to the Fairfax Group”.
04/07/17 Johnson TA/Indian Express