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Blackstone rejects buyback offer for Gateway Rail Freight

Private equity giant Blackstone has rejected the buyback offer for preference shares held in Gateway Rail Freight Ltd (GRFL), a subsidiary of Bangalore-based logistics firm Gateway Distriparks Ltd (GDL), according to a stock market disclosure.

Last month, GDL had offered to buy back the compulsorily convertible preference shares (CCPS) held by Blackstone in GRFL for twice the amount invested by the private equity firm in August 2010. The call option by GDL was valid for 30 days and expired on Wednesday.

Blackstone has formally rejected the offer made by GDL saying: “We do not accept the Call Offer for the Call consideration.” It has opted to convert the CCPS into equity shares.

Blackstone had invested close to Rs 300 crore in New Delhi-based GRFL in 2010, although the deal was announced in November 2009. GDL said it has offered to buy the stake for Rs 600 crore ($90 million).

Early this year, Blackstone had written to GDL seeking an IPO of GRFL as per the terms of the share subscription & shareholders’ agreement.

The volatility in the stock market has forced many companies to hold back their IPOs and there is a long queue of firms that are waiting with an approval from market regulator SEBI to float their public issues.

Several others, including many backed by PE firms, are yet to get a green signal from SEBI.

Blackstone has already sealed two exits from its India portfolio this year: CMS Info Systems (sold to Baring PE Asia) and Agile Electric (sold to Igarashi and Tata Capital).

It is also waiting to book profits with stake sale in two other IPO-bound firms: S H Kelkar and Nuziveedu Seeds.

Founded in 2007, GRFL provides intermodal logistics and operates its own Inland Container Depots/Dry Ports. It operates rail linked facilities at Garhi-Harsaru (Gurgaon, Haryana), Ludhiana (Punjab), Asaoti (Faridabad, Haryana) and Kalamboli (Navi Mumbai).

The company owns and operates a fleet of 21 trains and over 235 road trailers at its rail linked terminals. GRFL operates regular container train service from these ICDs/Dry Ports to the maritime ports at Nhava Sheva, Mundra and Pipavav, transporting import and export as well as domestic containers, according to its website.

Shares of GDL last traded at Rs 347.90 each, down 0.74 per cent on BSE in a weak Mumbai market on Thursday.

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