Mercator eyes Dredging Corp; Bharti, Tata’s telecom merger plan hits dead end
Photo Credit: Bhakti Nair/VCCircle

Mumbai-based shipping and dredging company Mercator Ltd is looking to acquire state-run Dredging Corporation of India Ltd, separate media reports said citing sources aware of the matter.

The government holds a 73.47% stake in Dredging Corp. The Mumbai-listed company’s market valuation is Rs 1,713 crore.

Mercator is talking to Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Group and Dutch dredging company Van Oord to bid for Dredging Corp, The Times of India reported.

Dredging Corp is likely to attract other bidders such as Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd, Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Group and Dharti Dredging and Construction Ltd, the report added.

The Mint newspaper cited a finance ministry spokesperson as saying that the government had not taken any decision to divest its stake in Dredging Corp.

The government plans to raise Rs 72,500 crore in fiscal year 2018 through divestment that comprise minority sales, strategic disinvestments as well as through listing of state-owned insurance companies.

In the first three months of 2017-18, the government has mobilised about Rs 6,700 crore by selling stakes in half a dozen companies.

In another development, The Economic Times reported that Bharti Enterprises had dropped a plan to pursue a mega-alliance with Tata Group’s telecom, overseas cable and enterprise services, and direct-to-home TV businesses.

Citing sources aware of the development, the report said that Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, which owns over a third of Bharti Airtel, was keen to cherry-pick the enterprise business of Tata Teleservices and Tata Communications. But SingTel did not want to take on the complexities of a major “multi-play” buyout involving a diverse set of stakeholders, the report added.

Telecom services provider Bharti Airtel has made a few acquisitions in recent years to consolidate its position as the market leader. In February, Bharti Airtel acquired Telenor India.

In March, Bharti Airtel agreed to acquire the fourth-generation telecom business and airwaves of Tikona Digital Networks Pvt. Ltd for about Rs 1,600 crore ($244 million) in cash and debt.

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