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Corporate Dec 7, 2012

GMR to handover Male airport to MACL at midnight

By Sindhu Bhattacharya

New Delhi:From midnight, the Maldives Airport Company (MACL) will take over the operations of the Male International Airport and the battleground is now expected to shift to a protracted arbitration process for compensation.GMR has cited Maldives' Attorney General's statement in September to point out that the company ought to get $700 million in compensation from the Maldives Government.

Media Secretary to the Maldives' President Masood Imad told Firstpost that an agreement has been reached wherein airport CEO Andrew Harrison would hand over the airport to the country's Finance Minister who will, in turn, hand it over to MACL at midnight tonight.

Imad also made it clear that MACL has been authorised to conduct arbitration proceedings by the Government and these are already on in a Singapore Court. When asked whether this incident would strain diplomatic ties between India and Maldives, he said a mere commercial agreement was being concluded and this incident would not impact relations between the two nations.

n this file picture taken on October 18, 2003, an aeroplane lands at Male International Airport while a sail boat makes its way through a blue lagoon.AFP

An AFP copy from Male just now referred to a three week transition period which the Government has agreed to provide for smooth transfer of airport operations and to which GMR has agreed.

Through the day today, GMR declined to offer any comment on the situation in Male.

A spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs had said yesterday that though the ministry's legal team is still evaluating a Singapore court's decision to uphold Maldives' right to take over the airport, "we hope all relevant contracts are adhered to and legal processes honoured".

The spokesperson had also pointed out that GMR's was the single biggest foreign investment by any company in Maldives and stressed that the legal process should be carried to their logical conclusion. He did not comment on any compensation amount that GMR is seeking from the Maldives Government.

On 1 December, the Maldives Cabinet annulled the contract awarded to GMR-led consortium to modernise the Male airport. GMR officials had asserted earlier that the company has done nothing wrong, it wants to continue airport operations and if it is forced to seek compensation, the amount should be close to $700 million.

by Sindhu Bhattacharya

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