Abu Dhabi’s National Marine Dredging Company (NMDC) is keen to buy state-owned Dredging Corporation of India Ltd (DCI), the country’s biggest dredging contractor, as it looks to create a global giant to take on Dutch and Belgian majors, which dominate the market.
The move comes after the Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to privatise DCI by selling the government’s 73.47 per cent stake in the Mumbai-listed and Visakhapatnam-based firm.
“DCI would be a most suitable and best fit for us,” says Mahesh Zagade, director at National Marine and Infrastructure India Pvt Ltd, the Indian unit of the Abu Dhabi stock exchange-listed company in which the Abu Dhabi government has a 32 per cent stake. “We are weighing plans to submit a bid,” he added.
NMDC has a fleet of 18 cutter suction dredgers (CSD:s used to deepen the channel of ports and harbours), one new trailing suction hopper dredger (TSHDs: used to maintain the channel) and over 100 floating craft to assist in dredging and construction. DCI has 12 TSHDs, three CSDs and a few craft.
“NMDC’s plan is to create a mammoth that can dominate the global dredging industry,” says an industry official. “It is currently hiring maintenance dredgers from the market because of lack of adequate TSHDs to complete works,” he said.
NMDC and DCI had earlier discussed a strategic alliance to deploy some of the Indian company’s dredgers in the global market. But, the talks were inconclusive. NMDC is currently executing a $316 million EPC contract for Swan Energy Ltd’s floating storage and re-gasification unit-based LNG port near Jafrabad in Gujarat.
The UAE-based company led a consortium that expanded the Suez Canal in 2015. It is the world’s sixth biggest dredging contactor by fleet size and revenues and buying DCI would lift it to the fifth spot.
“It is keen to break the cartel of Dutch and Belgian dredging contractors,” the industry official said, adding that the European dredging contractors were unlikely to bid for DCI.