Friday, September 04, 2020

Ports, power, renewables and now airports — Adani Group’s big, bold infrastructure bets

For Gautam Adani, chairman of the $15 billion Adani Group, the past six years have been a heady ride. Beginning with the acquisition of Dhamra Port in Odisha in May 2014, when a new government was ushered in, there's been no looking back for the industrialist.

Since then, the group has bid aggressively for ports, power projects, airports, and other infrastructure assets, transforming itself into India’s largest infrastructure conglomerate in a relatively short space of time.

With the acquisition of Mumbai International Airport (MIAL), India’s second largest airport after Delhi in terms of traffic, Adani Airports is set to become India’s largest airports operator.

Adani Group through Adani Airports Holdings (AAHL) entered into an agreement with GVK Airport Developers, which will give AAHL a controlling stake in MIAL for Rs 15,000 crore. The deal will also give AAHL rights to develop the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIAL), a project which has seen its cost escalating to Rs 16,000 crore.

It also won the mandate last year to manage and operate all six governments-owned Indian airports located in Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Mangalore, Jaipur, Trivandrum, and Guwahati, defeating GMR Group (operator of Delhi and Hyderabad airport), National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), Fairfax India (operator of Bangalore airport) AMP Group and PNC Infratech. Adani Group has already signed concession agreements for Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Mangalore airports and has received cabinet approval for the other three.

“Mumbai, the City of Dreams! It is a privilege to have an opportunity to serve the air travellers of one of the greatest Metropolis on our planet. #GatewaytoGoodness – Look forward to helping transform the Indian Airport Sector!,” said Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani in a tweet on Monday morning after announcing the MIAL deal.

Incidentally, Adani started his career in Mumbai, then known as Bombay, as a diamond trader, before moving to Ahmedabad to set up Adani Exports Limited, now known as Adani Enterprises Limited (AEL), the flagship company of the Adani Group.

Adani is banking on passenger traffic in the country to grow 5-fold as India builds 200 additional airports to handle over 1 billion domestic and international passengers across tier 1, 2 and 3 cities, a majority of which will connect to Mumbai.

“Over this period, India’s top 30 cities are expected to each require two airports and Adani Airports sees itself well-positioned to help build the infrastructure platform required,” said Adani.

The MIAL acquisition will put the group in direct competition with the GM Rao-led GMR Group, India’s largest airport operator, which operates airports in Delhi, Hyderabad, Cebu, Goa, Bhogapuram, Bidar and Crete, handling over 101 million passengers globally.

Adani Group’s seven airports including Mumbai handled close to 75 million passengers in FY20 compared with over 85 million passengers handled by GMR Group’s Delhi and Hyderabad airports. “We have already become larger than GMR in terms of number of airports and soon we will overtake them in terms of passenger handling capacity also,” said an Adani official.
04/09/20 Piyush Pandey/
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