Shivakumar writes to CM, opposes GVK's exit from BIAL

Shivakumar writes to CM, opposes GVK's exit from BIAL
Energy Minister D K Shivakumar has requested Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to stall GVK Group’s proposal to sell its remaining 10% share in Bangalore International Airport Ltd, which is operating the Kempegowda International Airport, to Fairfax Group.

He has written to Siddaramaiah, arguing why GVK Group should not be allowed to exit BIAL.
Recently, Fairfax, owned by a Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa, increased its stake in BIAL to 48% from 38%.

At present, the government of Karnataka and Airports Authority of India hold 13% each. Siemens holds 26%, while the rest 48% is held by Fairfax. The process of acquiring (10% held by GVK) stake in BIAL by Fairfax is expected to be completed by early July this year.

Shivakumar said, “You (CM), should instruct the concerned in the government to see that the government has required control on the management and affairs of KIA, in the interest of providing services of international standards to the passengers.” He said continuing GVK group as one of the shareholders at the present juncture is required. The shareholders’ agreement mandates that at least one of the shareholders shall have experience and expertise in operation and maintenance of the airport.

Fairfax Group is only a financial investor and has never operated or maintained any international airport. And if GVK exits by selling its stake to a foreign company as proposed, then BIAL will be left with no one who has expertise in airport management, he added.

The minister said the share transfer by GVK has taken place twice in the last seven years. However, there has been no significant change in management of BIAL. This shows that private promoters have made the company a trading entity, instead of improving services to passengers.

Shivakumar recalled that the functioning of BIAL had come up for discussion in the state Legislative Assembly where the members had raised concerns over the affairs of the airport. A House committee had probed into functioning of BIAL. “I had taken personal interest in bringing to light many of the lapses in every aspect of BIAL. As a result, many organisational and functional changes were effected,” he stated in the letter.

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