State-owned Shipping Corp of India (SCI) has seen earnings fall away in its third quarter on weaker tanker and liner performance.

But its share price has been rising after the government provided an update on its ongoing privatisation.

In the three months to 31 December, net earnings slumped to INR 1.32bn ($15.9m), against INR 2.4bn a year ago.

Revenue was down to INR 13.4bn from INR 14.9bn.

Pre-tax profit for tankers fell to INR 1bn from INR 3.5bn, while bulkers were stable at INR 263m.

Container shipping saw a bigger loss of INR 942m, versus INR 713m in 2022.

The share price was trading down 9% in Mumbai at INR 212 on Monday.

But the stock hit an all-time high of INR 291 last week after an official at the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) told financial and business portal Moneycontrol that a listing of its Shipping Corporation of India Land and Assets (SCILA) spin-off will be completed within a month.

This divestment of non-core assets is a key stepping stone towards the sell-off of the state’s 63.75% holding in the shipowner.

Big share price rises over the last year have boosted the market capitalisation to INR 9.8bn, making the stake worth INR 6.2bn.

Sale-and-purchase drive planned

SCI is also plotting a return to the secondhand market to renew its fleet.

Industry sources told the Economic Times that the state-owned shipping company wants to add five ships in an INR 20bn sale-and-purchase drive.

This suggests that the informal freeze on acquisitions, which was in effect during its ongoing privatisation process, has come to an end.

The SCI board has been given approval by the state for buys to take place by 31 March.

The report said SCI wants a VLGC, an MR tanker, a container ship bigger than 9,000 teu, a platform supply vessel and an anchor-handling tug supply vessel, according to a government official.