NEW DELHI : The Adani group will bid for the Airports Authority of India’s (AAI’s) stake in only Mumbai airport, and is not a suitor for the state-owned airport operator’s residual share in airports in Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, Karan Adani, managing director of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) said.

He added that the group will bid for airports that the government plans to put for auctions.

“We will bid for (AAI) airports… but not for AAI’s stake in airports other than Mumbai. The strategy is simple — we will bid for AAI’s stake only if it gives us a controlling stake. So, Mumbai yes, but not other airports,” Adani told Mint. The Adani group is a majority stakeholder in Mumbai International Airport Ltd – the company that runs Mumbai airport.

In recent times, the Adani group has bid aggressively for airports, and their decision to stay away from AAI’s stake in other private airports would mean lower revenues for the government.

AAI holds a 26% stake each in joint ventures that operate Delhi and Mumbai airports, and owns 13% each in the joint ventures that operate Hyderabad and Bangalore airports. Among the four airports, Delhi and Hyderabad have GMR Group as its largest shareholder and Fairfax is the largest member in the company that manages Bangalore airport.

Beyond Mumbai, the Adani group operates airports in Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Mangaluru, Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram. Barring the Mumbai airport, which was acquired from the GVK group in 2021, the group won the rights to upgrade and operate the other six airports between 2020 and 2021 for a period of 50 years.

According to the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) – announced in August 2021 – the government plans to privatise a total of 25 AAI airports and sell AAI’s stake in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru airport companies. The Adani group will bid for these 25 airports as and when they are up for grabs. The group will also invest about 60,000 crore to expand the seven existing airports in its portfolio over the next 5-10 years. These investments will be in addition to the 18,000 crore that the group plans to invest in Navi Mumbai airport.

Adani also added that the ‘Hindenburg issue is long behind us.’ On January 24, 2023, the US-based short-seller Hindenburg Research released a report accusing the Indian conglomerate of stock manipulation and financial fraud. The report impacted valuations of the conglomerate’s listed entities that lost about 12.41 trillion in market capitalisation just a month following its release.

There was no real concern with the ownership structure… There were some concerns on debt but they have been addressed now. After Hindenburg, a lot of reports came, but they didn’t have any adverse remarks about us, Adani said.

“As far as learnings are concerned, we realized that we need to work towards branding. And that strategy change is visible in our approach. We have also started to refocus on our core businesses,” he added.

As part of its move to focus on core businesses, the group is looking to sell its stake in Adani Wilmar and use the proceeds to strengthen the core businesses including ports, airports and energy.

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Published: 11 Mar 2024, 04:47 PM IST



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