The highways ministry is formulating a model pact for its projects to suit the needs of private investors, especially from the US, the Middle-East and Singapore, who have shown keen interest in operating them. Several investors, including Canadian Pension Fund, Abu Dhabi Investment Fund and some from the US, Europe and Singapore, have shown interest in buying various projects. As many as 10 public-funded national highway projects, out of a basket of 75, have been identified by the government for monetisation. “We are in the process of formulating a model concession agreement (MCA) to suit the needs of international investments,” a ministry official told PTI.
“A large number of global investors have evinced interests in our projects and some of these meetings have been facilitated by Morgan Stanley and Brookfield Asset Management,” he said. The official said investors have expressed interest in toll operate transfer (TOT) projects and a consortium of investors are keen to invest here. “This special MCA being drafted will be for a wide spectrum of projects including in the highways, railways, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and Waterways,” the official added.
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“In the first week of August, we could expect to see the first bundle of 10 out of 75 TOT projects out for bidding,” the official said. The government in August last year had authorised the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to monetise public-funded highway projects in the country.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had earlier said that monetisation of public-funded highway projects could result in funds in the range of Rs 80,000 to Rs 1 lakh crore initially. Ever since the government’s nod for monetisation, NHAI has been conducting traffic studies related to such projects, the revenue streams available and their overall viability.
The corpus generated from proceeds of such project monetisation could be utilised by the government to meet its fund requirements regarding future development and operation and maintenance of highways in the country and could address development of highways in unviable geographies. Market feedback indicates that certain institutional investors from outside the country have long-term investment appetite and are keen to participate in operational highway projects with stable toll revenue outlook.
These investors generally hesitate from taking construction risk but are willing to look at de-risked brownfield road assets, the government has earlier said.