Gautam Adani
Gautam Adani is making headway in extending his considerable reach into overseas territories. Among the world's billionaires, he has had the highest increase in wealth so far this year. Image Credit: Supplied

Colombo: Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd. will work with Sri Lanka's John Keells Holdings Plc to develop a port terminal in the island nation - and billionaire Gautam Adani's first such standalone overseas project.

India's biggest private port operator got a letter of intent from Sri Lankan authorities to build and operate the West Container Terminal of Colombo Port for 35 years, Adani Ports said. The project cost is estimated to be around $750 million, according to Daya Ratnayake, chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority.

This marks the latest addition in the expanding portfolio of the Indian firm that already operates a dozen ports in India, commands 30 per cent market share locally and recently secured an investment from Warburg Pincus llc. Its tie-up with John Keells - Sri Lanka's largest listed conglomerate - also bolsters India's engagement with its neighboring nation that has in recent years relied heavily on China for building its infrastructure.

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Immediate spike

Shares of Adani Ports rose as much as 2.3 per cent in Mumbai on Tuesday, pushing this year's climb to almost 50 per cent.

The overseas project is part of tycoon Adani's rapidly diversifying empire as he adds assets from ports to airports, coal mines and data centers, underscoring the rising heft of this first-generation entrepreneur. The port terminal will have a quay length of 1,400 meters and depth of 20 meters, making it a prime transshipment cargo destination to handle ultra-large container carriers.

It will be the first ever Indian port operator in Sri Lanka and hold 51 per cent in the joint venture.