• HDFC and NHAI likely to raise Rs 10,000 crore via Masala bonds

    Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) and National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) are set to raise funds from the international markets as the US’ Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates at least three times this year.

    Together, they could raise up to Rs 10,000 crore by selling rupee-dominated masala bonds (Rs 5,000 crore each) to investors before the end of this fiscal mostly, said multiple sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

    An email sent to NHAI remained unanswered till the time of going to press.

    “We have received in-principle approval to raise another Rs 5,000 crore via rupee-denominated bonds,” Keki Mistry, VC & CEO, HDFC, told ET.

    “We will deploy the proceeds in housing loans as we see larger demand over time as a result of the government’s continued focus on housing. We will look for a right time to enter the market and borrow money under the programme,” he said.

    “India is an attractive investment destination and the confidence of foreign investors is reflected in their continuing interest in investing in equity and debt of Indian companies,” he said.

    While NHAI has appointed three bankers –– Axis BankBSE 0.20 %, Standard Chartered Bank and Nomura –– HDFC is in talks with bankers, sources said. Individual banks could not be contacted immediately for comments.

    “Bankers would be aiming to raise the whole sum or most of it, before the financial year ends as US rate increases look imminent, adding to borrowing cost,” said a senior banker.

    HDFC, India’s largest mortgage lender, was the first to tap the masala bond market last year collectively raising Rs 5,000 crore worth of masala bonds. These bonds, listed on the London Stock Exchange, has three-year maturities and are priced a few basis points lower than its domestic corporate bond rates.

    Yields of those LSE-listed bonds have fallen recently pushing up prices.

    “Indian borrowers tap masala bond market either to diversify their borrowing resources or get a large sum at a cheaper cost,” said Ajay Manglunia, executive VP (fixed income), Edelweiss Finance. “If such overseas deals are sold 15-20 basis points less than their domestic corporate bonds, issuers stand to gain.”

    “HDFC and NHAI are top-rated issuers, and will play a crucial role in deepening the masala bond market,” he said.

    One alluring factor is the relative stable exchange rate as global investors, including hedge funds and private banks, are supposed to take the currency fluctuation risk on such investments unlike in dollar-denominated bonds where issuers take the same.

    “We have signed contracts worth Rs 5 lakh crore for infrastructure, roads, ports….we are receiving good response for the public-private partnership, build-operate-transfer and hybrid annuity (models),” Nitin Gadkari, road transport, highway and shipping minister had said a few days ago.  Lucas Johansen Authentic Jersey

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