• Bidding for NHAI road assets to begin in October

    From October, the government plans to start inviting bids to monetise its road assets worth Rs 70,000 crore. The aim is to unlock money that can used to build more roads.

    The transport ministry has lined up 100 high traction highways owned by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to be leased out to private players through competitive bidding. The highway projects will be leased to private players for maintenance and toll collection for 30 years in exchange for an upfront payment. A NHAI estimate says the government can rake in Rs 70,000-Rs 75,000 crore over a certain period of time by leasing out its road assets.

    “We’ll initiate the bidding process next month. We are already getting queries from investors. The project list is being worked out,” said a senior transport ministry official, who did not want to be named.

    The official said several foreign investors, including Canadian pension fund PSP and investors led by CLSA (Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia), Goldman Sachs and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) have shown interest in investing in these projects along with local operations and maintenance partners. “All domestic and long-term financial institutions are quite bullish about investing in operating assets instead of putting their money in greenfield projects,” said Vinayak Chatterjee, chairman, Feedback Infra.

    Recently, Goldman Sachs invested $220 million in Essel Highways. Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management is also vying for road assets of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Infrastructure.

    Under the Road Transport and Highways Ministry’s policy, highways built by NHAI are awarded to private players for an upfront fee.

    The private party operates the highway stretch and collects tolls for a long-term period. Infra developers, PE firms and institutional investors can take up completed highway stretches. The proceeds from leasing out will be invested in capacity expansion, officials said. The ministry has set a target of constructing 15,000 km of national highways in FY16-17. Kent Hrbek Authentic Jersey

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