HDFC seeks opportunities in stressed real estate

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Mumbai | Published: July 5, 2018 2:19:01 AM

Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) is seeking opportunities in stressed real estate assets, chairman Deepak Parekh said in his letter to shareholders.

hdfc, hdfc bankDeepak Parekh, chairman, HDFC

Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) is seeking opportunities in stressed real estate assets, chairman Deepak Parekh said in his letter to shareholders.

According to Parekh, while some of the plans for the future are still on the drawing board stage, yet, these are the broad contours. “We want to focus on strengthening our presence across the entire value chain of housing, seek opportunities in stressed real estate assets, mark a deeper footprint in the health insurance space and explore emerging organic and inorganic growth opportunities,” he said, adding that HDFC will also continue to support the growth of its subsidiary companies.

Parekh said that one aspect that the housing sector has always grappled with is how can land be made available at reasonable prices. The answer, he added, lies in smart regulation. Parekh explained that for the past twelve years, the regulators have not allowed banks and housing finance companies (HFCs) to fund land transactions, yet non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and private equity players are permitted to do so.

“This regulatory arbitrage allows NBFCs and private equity players to levy prohibitively high interest rates on developers borrowing to acquire land,” he said.

Parekh questioned the rationale behind allowing NBFCs to cross over into activities of HFCs, then why can’t HFCs be permitted to fund developers to buy land for affordable housing? “One can understand the central bank’s predicament of not wanting banks at this juncture to fund land transactions. But the core role of the HFCs is to support housing,” he explained, adding that if HFCs of a certain threshold size are permitted to fund developers to acquire land for affordable housing, then the current high interest rates are likely to get rationalised.

He said that HDFC regularly engages in dialogue with stakeholders on developments of the corporation, but desist from the practice of quarterly or annual earnings guidance.

‘Succession a key agenda’

Parekh also said succession planning at the housing finance firm and its group companies is a “key agenda” before their boards and they need to evaluate options of both external and internal candidates.

Parekh, however, made it clear that at HDFC Ltd, the board and its present vice chairman and CEO Keki Mistry have agreed that he will continue in this role for a period of three years, subject to shareholders’ nod.

Parekh said he is confident of the strong pipeline of talent for various functions across all companies within the HDFC Group.

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