Lenders are getting cold feet while funding Chennai Oceanarium project. The project, developed by VGP Marine Kingdom Pvt Ltd (VGPMK), is country’s first underwater aquarium with a walk through acrylic tunnel, creating an impression to the visitor of walking under the sea. However, banks are skeptical about the project which is unlike amusement parks which provide different experience to the visitors, the standalone underwater aquarium line of business is unexplored in India. As a result, the project which is based on an untested concept has been able to tie up only 42% of the debt component. The project is estimated to cost Rs. 109 crore to be funded out of equity of Rs. 26.35 crore, debt of Rs. 68.9 crore and the supplier’s credit from Marinescape (foreign partner) of Rs. 13.75 crore. As result of delay in achieving financial closure for the project, completion date has been postponed by one year and the project will now be completed by April 2016 as against April 2015 envisaged earlier.
VGPMK is a special purpose vehicle promoted to execute the Oceanarium project. The company is promoted by VGP Housing Pvt Ltd and Marinescape. Marinescape is a New Zealand-based company headed by Ian Mellsop who is in the business of planning and executing underwater aquarium-based projects since 1983.