HUDCO to have 26% equity in Kochi airport

Tuesday, 21 January 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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There was good news for the debt-ridden Kochi international airport Monday with an Indian housing finance major promising to take 26 percent of its equity.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The private Cochin International Airport Company Limited (CIACL) is sitting on a huge debt of 2.1 billion and the Housing and Urban Development Corporation's (HUDCO) move comes as a big relief.

CIACL secretary R. Venkiteswaran said it was decided in a meeting Monday that HUDCO would pick up an equity worth 520 million in CIACL.

"Today CIACL has an outstanding liability of 1.4 billion towards HUDCO," he said. He added that the rights issue for increasing the capital base from 900 million to 2 billion had almost been fully subscribed.

Kerala Chief Minister A.K. Antony, who is the chairman of the airport, chaired Monday's meeting, which was also attended by senior ministers.

CIACL built a modern international airport in Kochi with public participation, mostly by non-resident Indians (NRIs) from Kerala from 30 countries, in May 1999.

When it began operations, 51 percent of the equity was held by the state government and due to a severe financial crunch, Antony decided to disinvest 25 percent of its equity last year.

Now both HUDCO and the state government will have 26 percent each, followed by 240 million by almost 10,000 NRI shareholders, including the directors of CIACL.

Then there's 50 million each held by state-run Air-India and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and another 70 million held by various banks like the Federal Bank, Dhanalakshmi Bank and the India Overseas Bank.

In a related development, several shareholders created a scene at the CIACL annual general body meeting in Kochi Monday, demanding that dividends be paid.

But Venkiteswaran asked: "How is it possible for CIACL to pay dividends at this juncture?"

With HUDCO joining in and the number of flights every week increases, revenues are expected to go up.

"We are on the road to recovery," an NRI shareholder said.
Source: IANS

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