Private equity major Warburg Pincus is close to investing around $50 million (Rs 222 crore) in Chennai-based liquid storage company IMC Ltd, said sources familiar with the development. The deal for investment in IMC, which claims to be the largest independent bulk liquid storage company in India, is already closed, said one source familiar with the development.

IMC currently offers storage for bulk liquid at Kandla, JNPT, Mumbai, Goa, Karwar, Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Kakinada, Vizag, Kolkata, Haldia and Ennore. The closely held firm has a combined capacity in excess of 930,000 kilo liters for storage petroleum products, liquefied gases, petrochemicals, acids and vegetable oils.

An email sent to a Warburg Pincus spokesperson did not elicit a response at the time of publication of this article. Attempts to reach IMC officials were not successful.

The funds could be used to expand IMC's existing storage terminals at JNPT, Kakinada and Haldia ports. It also plans to open a facility in Tuticorin port.

Warburg Pincus, which has been active in the Indian PE market for more than a decade, recently invested $85 million in diagnostics laboratory chain Metropolis Healthcare. The PE firm has made infrastructure investments like Gangavaram Port Ltd and Punj Lloyd, which is an EPC contractor.

IMC had operating income of Rs 69 crore with a profit after tax of Rs 4.9 crore in FY09, as per a ICRA report. IMC is also looking to buy out the stake of its joint venture partner L&T Infrastructure Development Projects in Ennore Tank Terminal Pvt Ltd during this fiscal, according to ICRA filing. The Ennore Tank Terminal has a capacity of around 3 millionĀ  tonnes per annum.

IMC Ltd was set up in 1935 as a subsidiary of a UK-based company but was later acquired by the current management. The firm was initially into the import and export of molasses but later diversified into third party storage services through a network of tanks of at various ports. Besides third party storage, IMC is also involved in EPC work for tank farms. In 1992, it also spun off its molasses export business into a subsidiary called Imcola Exports Ltd.

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