• Top Canadian funds like Brookfield Asset Management, CDPQ and PSP Investments drawn to India’s highway projects

    Top Canadian funds including Brookfield Asset Management, Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec (CDPQ) and PSP Investments have evinced interest in investing in India’s highway projects. Brookfield Asset Management and Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec (CDPQ) have had preliminary talks with state-run National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the roads ministry, NHAI chairman Raghav Chandra said.

    “We have had initial talks with Canadian funds. They have been coming to me on and off and have shown interest in the toll operate transfer investment model (TOT),” he said. PSP Investments and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan have also expressed interest in the projects, another official aware of the matter said. The government has identified some 100 operational highways owned by the NHAI for leasing to private players through the auction route for maintenance and toll collection for 30 years.

    The highway projects will be leased along with local operations and maintenance partners. The ministry expects about Rs 70,000 crore in upfront payment from this process and plans to use the funds to meet its target of laying 15,000 km of national highways in the current fiscal. “Brookfield is in constant touch with us and they have conveyed they are very much interested in participating in the process of bidding,” Chandra said.

    The highways authority has roped in SBI CAPS as a consultant for its monetisation plan. Canadian funds led by Brookfield and Canadian Pension Fund Investment Board have been bullish on India and are making big bets. Brookfield has already said it is planning to invest $2 billion over the next two-three years. CDPQ has also planned large investments in different sectors in India.

    “We have been looking at various projects in India to invest in, including roads. A string of investments were announced last week. We also want to partner in one of the port projects,” a senior executive of Quebec-headquartered CDPQ told ET.

    CDPQ recently inked a longterm partnership with Edelweiss Financial Service Ltd to invest about Rs 5, 000 crore in stressed assets and specialised corporate credit in India. To make the highway projects more lucrative for private funds, the government is also allowing bundling of highway projects so that a bidder can take up a portfolio of projects. The ministry has already asked NHAI to identify projects where bundling can be done and the process of bidding started.(The correspondent was in Montreal at the invitation of government of Canada)  Kirk Gibson Jersey

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