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Indian port operator Essar Ports is planning to invest INR26bn ($526.83m) in order to increase its market share in terms of capacity and cargo-handling over the next two years.

Essar said it had already invested INR67bn ($1.35m) to improve capacity from 88 million tons (MT) to 158 MT by March 2014.

Essar Ports MD and CEO Rajiv Agarwal was quoted by PTI as saying the company plans to increase its market share to 10% by 2013-14 from 8% in terms of capacity and 6% in terms of cargo handling at present.

“We are in the process of implementing an INR93bn ($1.88m) expansion plan,” Agarwal said.

About Rs6bn ($121.57m) will invested by the company as a part of its expansion plans to build a new coal terminal at Paradip port in the Indian state of Orissa in the next two years, along with a new port at Salaya in Gujarat.

As of now the company is focusing on bulk cargo, about 75% of which came from assured anchor customers in the field of oil and power, while the remaining came from other parties.

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In the coming months the company is expecting an increase in its total cargo as expansion activities of some group companies are either finished or would be completed soon. Essar, which had opened its Hazira terminal for third party cargo handling, is expecting an increase at its overall cargo coming through this channel by 20%.

The company currently operates two ports at Hazira and Vadinar, both in Gujarat, while its new terminals at Paradip and Salaya are under construction. For the third quarter ended 31 December 2011, the company had posted a net profit of INR486m ($9.84m), an increase of 33% compared to INR339m ($6.86m) for the comparable period the previous year.