The Economic Times



India’s SWF gets ready to launch non-bank lender

NIIF already counts CPPIB, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, AustralianSuper, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Temasek, Axis Bank, HDFC Group, ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra Life Insurance as investors in the NIIF Master Fund, along with the government of India.

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  • The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is looking to settle a majority of its arbitration cases, with claims running over Rs 70,000 crore, through conciliation, a move that is likely to reduce its liabilities.

    The authority has now downsized the package, reducing the base price of the bid—to Rs 2,165 crore.

    InvITs are like mutual funds where investors are allotted units on which they earn some returns.

    According to the earlier model approved by the government in 2016, NHAI could monetise publicly funded highways by offering investors toll collection rights for 30 years for a lumpsum amount. “With this flexibility, we now get a larger pool of road stretches to choose from,” a senior government official told ET.

    Financial bids for the third bundle of toll-operate-transfer(TOT) auctions were opened on Wednesday. TOT was introduced in 2016 to monetise publicly-funded highways. Under the model, investors make a one-time payment in return for long-term toll collection rights.

    Armed with the new Motor Vehicles Act, e-tolling and instruments like InvIT, for Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari "funds have never been a problem or will be a problem" when it comes to highways or infrastructure building.

    Among key changes, the NHAI has been allowed to vary the concession period of toll projects between 15 to 30 years. TOT was introduced in 2016 to monetise publicly funded highways. Under the model, investors make a one-time lump sum payment in return for long-term toll collection rights of 30 years.

    It is time for commentators on the economy to offer their wish lists of reforms to the finance minister.

    The National Highways Building Authority of India (NHAI) in June this year invited bids for a cumulative 500 kms of road stretches looking to raise a minimum of Rs 4,995 crores.

    Even after regulatory action on the firms after a number of scams, the Big Four – EY, Deloitte, KPMG and PwC – dominate the audit space, handling 26% of the total assignments between them.

    The guidelines are being re-drawn with an aim to make BOT projects more investor-friendly as the government looks to revive private investment in the sector. In BOT projects, private sector developers build a road using their own funds, operate it and then transfer it to the government after a specified period.

    While the proposal to tweak conditions for auctioning of completed highway stretches to make them attractive for investors and allowing NHAI to securitise the future flow of toll revenue of already operational stretches with banks and financial institutions to get upfront lump sum amount would be considered by the cabinet.

    NHAI had in June this year invited bids for the third bundle of toll-operate-transfer auctions, looking to raise a minimum of Rs 4,995 crore. While the names of the companies that have submitted bids due on Monday are not yet known, officials said leading infrastructure players such as Adani, Cube Highways, IRB Infrastructure and L&T could be among the bidders.

    Foreign pension funds and private equity funds were showing more interest in India’s highway road assets within the infrastructure space given the policy issues involved with various states in other infrastructure asset classes, Asheesh Sharma, member (finance), the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) said.

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