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Port of Rotterdam, India's L&T in JV Talks: Report

The Port of Rotterdam Authority is in talks with India's Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T) for a greenfield port in India, the Mint paper said, citing officials from both firms.

A deal could be announced later this month, it said.

"We are exploring opportunities for port business in India and are in talks with L&T," an unnamed port of Rotterdam executive told the paper.

"We believe that 2008 will be a critical year for the project, when we may make an announcement," the executive said.

A delegation from the Netherlands would be in India this month to work out the details, the executive told the paper.

The Port of Rotterdam had done an appraisal, and planned to develop the project along the lines of its venture with Oman's government for the Sohar port in Oman, the executive told the paper.

Larsen & Toubro told the paper that talks had started.

"They have initiated talks with us, but it is too premature to comment," M.V. Kotwal, L&T's senior executive vice president and member of the board, told the paper.

The port, Europe's biggest, has said it was looking at investment opportunities in India as it looks to expand its facilities to accommodate increased traffic from Asia.

L&T, India's biggest engineering and construction firm, said recently a unit had signed a deal with Sohar Industrial Port Co to make equipment for refineries and fertiliser firms.

Indian ports are struggling to keep pace with the country's booming economy, with port officials saying capacity needs to be increased by 130 percent to meet an expected doubling in shipments over the next five years.