Acceding to the demand from prospective bidders, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is set to extend the last date for submission of bids for the two toll-operate- transfer (TOT) bundles — 9 and 10 — by fifteen days to May 13.
Sources said a clutch of domestic and international players have evinced interest to take part in the bidding process for the two bundles, comprising one stretch each for a cumulative length of around 200 km located in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The prospective bidders, at the pre-bid meeting, requested NHAI give them some more time to carry out further due diligence.
Under the TOT bundle, public-funded highway assets are given on a long-term lease, 15 years for the current two bundles on offer. The operator collects user fees on the stretches following the prescribed rates by the NHAI to recoup their investments but the operator has to operate and maintain the stretches during the entire concession period.
NHAI has been monetising highway stretches since 2018 to pare debt which stands at Rs 3.5 trillion and to build new national highway stretches under the Bharatmala program. It has raised around Rs 17,000 crore have made eight attempts so far.
While earlier bundles were of at least two stretches if not multiple one, NHAI has consciously kept both the bundles of one stretch each only this time. A senior official said this was done to ensure wider participation. Adani, IRB Infra, Sekura, a Canadian pension fund and Cube Highways are among the prospective bidders.
NHAI has drawn up a plan to monetise the 21,700 km stretch in the next three years starting from the current fiscal. The priority, mode of monetisation, expected upfront realization amount and capital cost involved, are determined on the basis of project viability and market appetite prevalent at the time of bidding.
The NHAI had decided, from the fifth bundle onwards, not to disclose its own reserve price at the time of inviting bids, but to let the market discover the price.