GIC, Tata group buy stake in Delhi airport operator for $1.57b

GIC will hold 15 per cent of GMR Airports.
GIC will hold 15 per cent of GMR Airports.PHOTO: ZAOBAO

NEW DELHI (BLOOMBERG) - A consortium of India's Tata Group, a unit of Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC and SSG Capital Management will invest 80 billion rupees (S$1.57 billion) to buy a stake in GMR Airports Ltd, which runs India's biggest airport.

The deal will pump 10 billion rupees into GMR Airports, a unit of GMR Infrastructure Ltd. and purchase 70 billion rupees of the airport unit's equity shares from the parent, according to a statement. GMR operates Delhi International Airport Ltd, Asia's sixth biggest.

After the purchase, Tata will hold 20 per cent in the airport unit, while GIC will get 15 per cent and SSG will own 10 per cent, the company said in a filing. The deal, which values GMR Airports at 180 billion rupees, will bring down the group's consolidated debt by 40 per cent to 120 billion rupees, its chief financial officer Sushil Modi told reporters in Mumbai.

The deal marks Tata's entry into the airports business amid a one trillion-rupee-plan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to develop airfields in India's remote towns and villages. Tata, which owns two local airlines, follows billionaire Gautam Adani's bet on the sector after his firm won bids to operate six local airports last month.

GMR Infrastructure, which has net debt of US$2.9 billion at the end of December 2018, has been selling assets to pay off liabilities. GMR competes with GVK Power & Infrastructure Ltd, which runs the airport in the financial capital of Mumbai.

GMR shares jumped as much as 9.8 per cent to the highest intraday level since Sept 3 in Mumbai, while the broader S&P BSE Sensex index rose 0.6 per cent.

GMR also operates airports in Hyderabad and Cebu, while it is developing greenfield airports in Goa and Crete, Greece. The group envisages capital expenditure of 90 billion rupees to expand the New Delhi facility, while spending 55 billion rupees for Hyderabad, CFO Modi said.