Gautam Adani wins Mundra LNG battle with GSPC

Vol 14, PW 17 (24 Feb 11) Midstream & Downstream

Street-smart billionaire Gautam Adani, 49, has an uncanny ability to get the best of anyone in negotiations, including grumpy and unyielding GSPC managing director Tapan Ray.

PETROWATCH learns Adani has finally won a two-year long battle to increase his company’s stake in the 5m t/y proposed Mundra LNG project from 25% to 50%. Ray gave in to Adani’s long-standing demand at a meeting in Gandhinagar last month (January), chaired by former Gujarat energy secretary MM Srivastava.

“GSPC and Adani Energy still need approval from the Gujarat government before signing the shareholder agreement,” reports an industry source. “But that’s a formality.

I expect them to sign the agreement by March 31 at the latest.” This is quite a turnaround, considering Ray once spoke of scrapping the Mundra LNG project because he was so irritated with Adani’s constant demands for a larger stake.

Adani’s dogged persistence and shrewd business sense is earning him plaudits in Gandhinagar, with some comparing him to late Reliance founder Dhirubhai Ambani. “Gautam Adani hasn’t studied past the tenth grade,” says one ardent admirer.

“Just like Dhirubhai he thinks big, talks big and acts big.” Take another recent example: Adani stunned the assembled crowd at the Vibrant Gujarat investors meeting in Ahmedabad in January when he announced plans to invest $17.6bn (Rs80,000cr) over the next two years in Gujarat’s ports, power stations and the Mundra LNG terminal.

Plenty of jaws dropped but there was a huge grin on the face of Adani’s close personal friend, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Still, don’t assume Gautam Adani is an ardent BJP supporter.

He is not. Like any prudent businessman, his politics is the politics of money, and politicians from all parties are kept happy.

Another of his close friendships is with Robert Wadhera, husband of Priyanka Gandhi, daughter of ruling Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi.

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