GMR is seeking USD 1.4 billion dollar in damages from the Maldives government and Maldives Airports Company Limited for the termination of its contract. The infrastructure major, which lost its right to expand and develop the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Male, has submitted its arguments to a Singapore international arbitration centre, CNBC-TV18's Sunanda Jayaseelan reports.
The company had earlier decided to seek USD 800 million, but has now decided to hike it to USD 1.4 billion, the additional charge being for reputational damage. The Maldives government had terminated the 25-year contract with GMR Group to develop and operate the Male airport on November 27, 2012, terming it "void ab initio" (invalid from the outset). It was GMR's decision to impose an airport development charge of USD 25 per departing passenger that became the bone of contention between GMR and the new Maldivian government, which came into power in February 2012.
The next hearing in the case may come up in July. The Maldivian government along with the airport company has already submitted its arguments. However, they will naturally file a countersuit against the USD 1.4 billion claim that GMR has made and that this final process could close out by sometime mid next year.
However, GMR maintains that if the arbitration process goes in their favour, they are keen on getting the rights back to develop that international airport in Male. GMR refused to comment on the matter as it is under arbitration.