Israel said on Thursday it will sell Haifa Port, a major trade hub on its Mediterranean coast, to winning bidders Adani Ports (APSE.NS) of India and local chemicals and logistics group Gadot (DLEKGG.UL) for 4.1 billion shekels ($1.18 billion).
Gadot and Adani made it to the end of a two-year tender process that Israel hopes will lower import prices and help shorten notoriously long wait times at Israeli harbors.
“The privatization of the port of Haifa will increase competition at the ports and lower the cost of living,” said Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Adani will have a majority 70% stake and Gadot will hold the remaining 30%, according to an industry official. Neither company was reachable for immediate comment.
Adani Ports, which has said it is the largest transport utility in India, is targeting expansion and seeks to become the premier global port group, the company’s chief executive Karan Adani, told an earnings call in May.
The new owners will compete with a private port that opened down the bay last year, which is operated by Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) (600018.SS) .
About 98% of all goods move in and out of Israel over sea and the government has been upgrading the sector to maintain economic growth.
Warming ties with neighbouring Arab countries are also creating new trade opportunities for Israel and Haifa is well placed to become a regional hub.
Haifa Port said the new group will operate the port until 2054 and that the winning bid was “higher than expected.”
“After a complicated process, we were able to ensure Haifa Port’s future and its ability to compete in the coming years,” said Chairman Eshel Armoni.
($1 = 3.4876 shekels)