Billionaire Adani to Control Mumbai Airport in Rebound Bet

A waiter rides on an escalator inside Terminal 2 of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Billionaire Adani to Control Mumbai Airport in Rebound Bet

Adani Enterprises Ltd. has taken control of Mumbai’s international airport from GVK Group, in a bold bet by billionaire Gautam Adani that travel will stage a rapid recovery after being crushed by the pandemic.

The deal for Mumbai International Airport Ltd., India’s second busiest, makes Adani Airport Holdings Ltd. the nation’s largest airport infrastructure company, accounting for 25% of all passenger traffic and 33% of air cargo, according to a statement late Tuesday.

While the coronavirus pandemic has devastated the global aviation industry, Adani is taking a longer view, betting on an Indian air-transport market that is forecast to become the world’s third-largest by 2026, according to the International Air Transport Association.

“While the world navigates its way out of an unprecedented crisis, post-pandemic demand for air travel in India and the rest of the world is expected to surge,” Adani Airport said in the statement. Adani Airport will “cater to a 300-million-strong post-pandemic consumer base comprising fliers and non-fliers.”

Shares of Adani Enterprises rose as much as 2.6% in early Mumbai trading Wednesday, before erasing gains to be little changed.

Adani is seeking a loan of about 75 billion rupees ($1 billion) to refinance the airport’s 80 billion rupees debt, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month. Adani Airport in August agreed to acquire the debt of GVK Airport Developers Ltd., and bought a 23.5% stake in the gateway from Airports Co. South Africa and Bidvest Group Ltd.

Mumbai International Airport separately this week plans to raise around $389 million selling rupee-denominated one- and two-year 11% bonds, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The deal catapults Adani Enterprises into the major leagues, pitting it against GMR Infrastructure Ltd., which controls India’s busiest international airport in New Delhi. Adani, which operates six airports in India, is expecting its share of passenger traffic to grow to 100 million people in 2022 from 80 million last year with the Mumbai acquisition.

“Our larger objective is to reinvent airports as ecosystems that drive local economic development and act as the nuclei around which we can catalyze aviation-linked businesses,” Gautam Adani said in the statement. “These include metropolitan developments that span entertainment facilities, e-commerce and logistics capabilities, aviation dependent industries, smart city developments, and other innovative business concepts.”

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