According to sources, I Squared Capital-backed Cube Highways emerged the highest bidder, followed by the second highest bid coming from Adani Group at Rs 3,675 crore.
The Union road transport ministry is planning to opt for a rebidding of the second bundle of road projects under the toll, operate, transfer (TOT) model after the highest bid received for the projects from Cube Highways at Rs 4,612 crore fell short of the floor price by Rs 750 crore. According to sources, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will call for rebidding of the bundle of projects, though the timeline for the same was not immediately clear. The floor price, or initial estimated concession value (IECV) for the bundle comprising eight highways and totalling 586.55 km, had been set at Rs 5,362 crore by NHAI. The last date (extended) for submission of bids was December 19. The financial bids were opened on Monday.
According to sources, I Squared Capital-backed Cube Highways emerged the highest bidder, followed by the second highest bid coming from Adani Group at Rs 3,675 crore. Mumbai-based IRB Infrastructure Road Developers lodged a bid of Rs 2,718 crore. While both Cube and IRB Infrastructure bid alone, Adani Group, a new entrant in the roads sector, formed a partnership with Madhya Pradesh-based Prakash Asphalting and Toll Highways. According to official documents, in the early stages, Canadian asset manager Brookfield Asset Management, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), through its subsidiary Highway Concessions One, PSP Investments-owned ROADIS, and Tata Realty and Infrastructure (TRIL) had taken part in the preliminary bid meetings.
While Macquarie Group bid one-and-a-half-times the reserve price for the first TOT bundle at Rs 9,681 crore in February, experts FE spoke to had cautioned the second round was likely to see less euphoric bids, given that the highways in this second bundle are not as well maintained. Recently, Vinayak Chatterjee, chairman, Feedback Infrastructure, had also tweeted that in the second package, the stretches of highways in the states of West Bengal and Bihar are the ‘key dampeners’. The growth rates in these states are much lower than the national average as a result of which toll collection and subsequent traffic growth are expected to grow at a slower pace.