Nalanda Capital, a Singapore-based private equity firm founded by former Warburg Pincus India MD Pulak Prasad, has increased its holding in Great Eastern Shipping Company to 5.11 per cent.

Disclosures by Nalanda revealed that the PE firm had been building the stake for the past six months. It had apparently acquired 2.14 per cent stake in the shipping firm during July-September quarter and hiked it to 4.95 per cent by December 31, 2011. Over the past one week, the firm bought an additional 0.16 per cent or 183,809 shares, the company disclosed in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Given the average share price during this period, the PE firm that mostly invests in Indian public listed companies, would have invested around Rs 180 crore to build its stake in the company through secondary market purchases.

On the Bombay Stock Exchange, shares of Great Eastern Shipping traded at Rs 209.25, up 1.68 per cent from the previous close.

Mumbai-based Great Eastern Shipping is engaged in transportation of crude oil, petroleum and gas products, as well as dry bulk commodities. The company also offers offshore exploration and production services to oil companies.

Last week, Great Eastern Shipping took the delivery of the crude oil carrier with 318,000 dwt from Hyundai Heavy Industries. With this delivery, the company’s current fleet stands at 34 vessels including 24 tankers (9 crude carriers, 14 product carriers, 1 LPG carrier) and 10 dry bulk carriers (1 Capesize, 3 Kamsarmax, 1 Panamax, 4 Supramax and 1 Handymax) with an average age of 8.9 years aggregating 2.62 million dwt.

Nalanda Capital, which has $875 million under management across two funds, appears to be looking to bring down the average cost of acquisition of shares in the Indian shipping company as stock market valuations have tanked to near two-year low.

In November 2011, Nalanda Capital had increased its holding in AIA Engineering Ltd, which manufactures and designs engineering components, to 6.3 per cent. The PE firm acquired the additional 1.2 million shares or 1.27 per cent stake for a total consideration of Rs 37.2 crore.


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