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Speculation builds around Maersk’s interest in Concor privatisation

Although officials at Maersk (India) remain tight-lipped, there are strong rumours that the Danish group is preparing itself to make a bid on Container Corp. of India (Concor).

Concor commands the bulk of containerised rail freight movement in India, on the back of an expansive inland terminal network.

Maersk has reportedly attended two rounds of pre-tender consultations held by government officials to woo private investors.

“A.P. Moller-Maersk is in the process of transforming itself into an integrated container logistics and shipping company, and this means that we are continuously looking at how we can effectively connect and simplify our customers’ supply chains,” a company spokesperson said.

The official also noted, “As a company policy, we do not comment on rumours or speculation.”

The sale of the profitable rail company was one of several privatisations announced by the Indian union cabinet in 2019 in order to raise additional financial resources for infrastructure development.

The divestment plan calls for paring down the public ownership in Concor to 24% from a controlling 54.7% stake at present.

That privatisation effort has gathered steam after the Indian Railway Ministry released a new land leasing policy in September this year, as license fees for inland terminals had been a concern for potential buyers.

Besides being a leader in inland transport by rail, Concor holds strategic stakes in two leading Indian container terminals -- APM Terminals Mumbai at Nhava Sheva Port/JNPT and DP World-operated International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT), also known as Vallarpadam Terminal, at Cochin Port.

Concor has also diversified into multimodal logistics offerings to keep pace with new market dynamics, as the government pursues a more efficient integrated logistics ecosystem for export/import trade growth.

The Maersk group has been beefing up its landside logistics infrastructure in India by opening new warehousing facilities as part of its integrated logistics strategy.

“As an integrator of logistics, Maersk is developing and providing solutions ranging from ocean transportation to landside and air transportation, contract logistics including warehousing & distribution (W&D) and depots, custom clearances, visibility solutions and so on,” the company said in a recent statement.

It added, “The integrated solutions allow Maersk to have greater control over the movement of the cargo at multiple stages of its journey and thus bring resilience to the supply chains.”

Maersk went on to point out that “with the expansion of W&D [warehousing and distribution] facilities, Maersk is strengthening its position further by providing a larger array of services through a single window to its customers.”

The fact that a modal shift of freight from road to rail remains a major government priority -- for decarbonisation and speedier port flow -- makes Concor an attractive bet.

Jenny Daniel
Global Correspondent

Contact email: [email protected]

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