NHAI to raise Rs 4,000 crore via masala bond to fund construction of highways

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New Delhi | Published: November 18, 2018 4:31:44 AM

Move part of Rs 62,000-crore debt raising for current fiscal to fund construction of highways.

nhai, highway sector, highway industry, economyThe NHAI Board is likely to finalise the proposal for masala bonds issuance in its next meeting later this month.

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will raise up to Rs 4,000 crore through sale of masala bonds as part of its overall Rs 62,000-crore debt raising plan for the current fiscal to fund construction of highways. The authority had raised Rs 3,000 crore though masala bonds last fiscal.

The NHAI has already raised Rs 29,000 crore in the current fiscal — from Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), National Small Saving Fund (NSSF) and State Bank of India (SBI) — at an average coupon rate of around 8%.

The NHAI Board is likely to finalise the proposal for masala bonds issuance in its next meeting later this month. Plans are afoot to launch the roadshow to woo investors in the US and the UK soon after. Masala bonds are rupee-denominated bonds sold in offshore capital markets.

NHAI’s first-ever masala bond issued last year had received overwhelming response from a wide range of investors. The initial benchmarked issue of Rs 1,500 crore was upsized to Rs 3,000 crore at a price yielding 7.30% annually. Asian investors had contributed 60% of the subscription and the balance 40% came from Europe.

Further, 61% of the amount came from the fund managers or insurance firms, 39% from the banks. The response from a spectrum of investors has brightened hopes of NHAI for using masala bond as an instrument for raising rupee denominated resources internationally.

However, Employees Provident Fund of India (EPFO) remains a significantly missing link in terms of source for resource mobilisation. Against Rs 10,000 crore raised last fiscal, there has been nil borrowing from the retirement fund by NHAI so far this year. As all the required fund for the current fiscal has been largely tied up, there could be no borrowing from EPFO in the current fiscal.

NHAI is in need of increasingly higher funds not just because it has been mandated to develop more highways, but because it is awarding more and more projects through hybrid annuity model (HAM), an innovative public-private partnership model in which the government bears 40% of the project cost in phases of construction.

The authority has been mandated by the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) to construct 6,000 km highways in 2018-19 compared with only 3,500 km in the last fiscal.

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