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GMR loses airport case against Maldives

Posted on Dec 07, 09:41AM | IBNS

Indian infrastructure company GMR on Thursday lost its case against the Maldives government on the Male airport project with a Singapore court ruling that the archipelagic nation can cancel a USD 511 million airport development contract given to the firm.

"The Maldives government has the power to do what it wants, including expropriating the airport," Sundaresh Menon, the Chief Justice of Singapore, said, according to media reports.

Maldives president's spokesperson after the judgement said the government would now call fresh global tenders for the project of modernizing GMR Male' International Airport Ltd (GMIAL).

On Dec 3 it seemed GMR group got a reprieve when the Singapore High Court had stayed the termination of the multi-million dollar contract that the company was executing at Male airport in Maldives but got caught in the vortex of politics and anti-India feelings.

But the reprieve was short lived and finally the verdict went in favour of Maldvies government.

The Government of Maldives had earlier terminated the contract, triggering strong reactions from the GMR group.

GMR earlier said that the action was unilateral and completely irrational.

Relations between India and Maldives had soured over the issue, especially after a government spokesperson said the Indian High Commissioner should leave their country over the airport project.

Maldives president Mohamed Waheed as well as pro-government Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) later condemned the remarks made against the Indian High Commissioner D M Mulay by government Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza.

At a rally organized by the Civil Coalition against Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) operator GMR (an Indian company), Abbas had said that Mulay had taken bribe from the Indian company and said that "the Indian High Commissioner would have to leave the country the same day GMR is ousted."

Abbas also purportedly called Mulay anti-Maldives and that he is not wanted on their soil.

But a day later, the government disassociated itself from the remarks.

GMR Male' International Airport Pvt. Ltd. is a joint venture company promoted by Bangalore-headquartered GMR Infrastructure Limited (GIL) along with its sole consortium partner Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB).

In June 2010, the consortium won concession for the Male International Airport (later renamed as Ibrahim Nasir International Airport ) for a period of 25 years.

Ibrahim Nasir International Airport INIA is the special purpose vehicle formed in Maldives pursuant to the concession in which the stake of GIL and MAHB is 77pc and 23pc respectively.

More than 1200 employees from Maldives Airports Company Ltd (MACL) were to be transferred to GMR Male International Airport Pvt. Ltd. (GMIAL) as part of the privatisation.

There has been many criticism of the GMR managing the airport in Male. Many protests were organized against GMR and it has become very unpopular among the Maldivians, according to reports.