SCI mulling India-Africa liner route, to buy three vessels

SCI plans to start a new container liner route from India to Africa, in addition to the European route which the company proposes to run through a JV with Mediterranean Shipping Co

State-owned Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) plans to start a new container liner route from India to Africa in addition to the European route which the company proposes to run through a joint venture (JV) with Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), a senior company official said.

"We are evaluating various options to start an India-Africa liner route. We also have plans to acquire three new container ships by this year-end," the SCI official told PTI in Mumbai.

SCI has earmarked $200 million-$225 million to fund these three vessel-purchases and plans to float a tender for the same in the next few days.

The entity plans to purchase the three new container vessels along with its existing JV partner MSC. These will be executed after securing Board approval, the official said.

In May 2009, SCI had entered into an agreement with MSC to run its European service.
Presently, SCI has a total fleet strength of 76, which includes five container vessels.

"We have seen a significant pick up in volumes in the recent past, on account of the recovery in domestic and global markets. Volumes are expected to pick up further in the months ahead," the official said.

"In the long term, there is a huge potential in this business. The recovery in freight rates is most notable on the Asia-Europe routes with all container routes showing signs of improvement," the SCI official said.

Vessel prices have also declined in recent months, a factor which is favourable to SCI while making its vessel purchases, the official said. He, however, did not divulge further financial details.

SCI also operates feeder cargo vessels along India's west coast, besides operating cargo vessels in the coastal regions of the country.
 

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