Fairfax preps for bigger play in infra sector

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, Toronto, Ontario-based financial holding company owned by Indian-born businessman Prem Watsa, is prepping up for a bigger play in Indian infrastructure sector beyond airports such as railway station re-development and port development and operation.

Multiple people familiar with the plan said that Fairfax through its newly created wholly-owned Indian unit, Anchorage Infrastructure Investments Holdings Limited (Anchorage), has applied on nine railway station re-development tenders for New Delhi, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Gwalior, Nagpur, Tirupathi, among others.

“Anchorage will be the flagship company and platform for investing in companies and businesses and for bidding on all infrastructure tenders including the next round of airports to be auctioned,” one of the persons, a banker with the knowledge of the matter, said.

Fairfax has also started consolidating all its India infrastructure investments under Anchorage. As the first step in this direction, it is in the process of transferring the entire stake in Bangalore International Airport Ltd to Anchorage. The stake transfer has received approval from regulators and existing shareholders of BIAL, an official with the Airports Authority of India said.

Fairfax India Holdings Corporation, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, FIH Mauritius Investments Ltd, held the 54 per cent interest in BIAL which runs the Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru. OMERS Infrastructure is the largest shareholder in Fairfax India Holdings, an investment holding company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. OMERS is also in the process of acquiring a direct 11.5 per cent stake in Anchorage for about ₹950 crore or about $134 million.

A new ‘port’ of call

Omers Infrastructure invests globally in infrastructure assets on behalf of OMERS, the defined benefit pension plan for municipal employees in the Province of Ontario, Canada. “Ports is another sector which Fairfax could be looking at for potential investments,” said a second person, a consultant, aware of plan. “Container handling terminals would be the perfect thing for potential port investment and Fairfax is keeping an eye out for it,” he said.

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