MUMBAI: Port of Antwerp, which had recently acquired a minority stake in the Essar Group-controlled Essar Ports, will now try to attract the Essar Group companies to set up facilities at the Antwerp port.
Essar Ports, which sold 4% stake in the company to Port of Antwerp for 175 crore in June this year, is also looking to increase the cargo flow from India to Antwerp, and is holding talks with Indian freight forwarders to send cargo through Antwerp.
"We will definitely look at bringing the Essar Group companies to set up facilities at the port; we are hoping this happens and are holding discussions with them. These could be steel servicing centres, warehouses, tank storage or likewise. But our primary aim is to increase cargo flow from India to Antwerp," Eddy Bruyninckx, CEO, Port of Antwerp, told ET.
Essar Group - the diversified family-run conglomerate - which has interests in various sectors including energy, oil, steel and power among other businesses, is already holding talks with Antwerp port to set up steel servicing centres there.
Essar Steel currently has three such facilities - in the UK, Indonesia and Dubai -- to cater to the European region and East Asian markets.
"Steel servicing centre is on the table of discussions. Essar Steel already exports a certain amount of steel to Europe and we are having discussions on this. Otherwise, over a period of time, if an interesting prospect comes up, we will look into it. But it depends largely on the requirement of the companies and are driven by economics of investment," Rajiv Agarwal, MD, Essar Ports, said.
Essar Ports, which is looking to increase its capacity at the ports here, is now looking to utilise its relationship with Antwerp port to attract European companies to set up facilities at Essar's existing ports in the country.
"Ports facilitate cargo flow and Port of Antwerp has numerous relationships. They have companies that operate all over the world and once you have a financial relationship, we think it's easier to attract their various partners," Agarwal explained.
Essar Ports, listed on the bourses last year, has been involved in liquid and bulk cargo business, but with the central government's plan to award more than 25 port projects in the current fiscal, the company plans to expand its presence in the container business.
"We are in the business of ports and we will want to venture into all the areas associated with it. As far as containers are concerned, we will definitely look for tie-ups since we do not have necessary expertise. In future, we will definitely do container business," said Agarwal.