It’s a huge figure we are looking at US$ 90 billion. That’s what Merrill Lynch forecasts that the Indian realty sector will grow to by 2015. As industry is enthusiastic about that figure, RBI has raised its voice of concern. It reasons that the portfolio inflows should confirm to the norms applicable to foreign direct investment (FDI) in the sector. Analysts feel that the central bank should revisit the FDI norms rather than curbing the portfolio inflows.
As they say, no matter how thin you slice, there are always two sides. A growing economy comes with its own burdens creating demands on infrastructure and real estate. The relevance of real estate further enhances when we look at the following statistics:
1) It is the second largest employer in India (including construction and facilities management)
2) It is linked to about 250 ancillary industries like cement, brick, steel through backward & forward linkages
3) A unit increase in expenditure in this sector has a multiplier effect and the capacity to generate income as high as five times
Thus, to support growth, various concessions and benefits have been given to the sector. This would help change the current contribution of housing and real estate to India’s GDP which is at 1% against 3-6% for developing countries.
Funding can be sourced using debt, equity or a mix of both. Debt funding could be done from sources like banks, Non Banking Financial Corporations (NBFC) or via External Commercial Borrowings (ECB). Equity participation would involve investments in the firm at an entity level or project level. FDI is one of the ways of financing a firm’s projects. FDI in real estate is permitted in construction and project development related to both residential and commercial development in housing townships and commercial office space subject to certain project conditions. With yields at around 11.0% for office space, which go upto 20-25% in greenfield projects, investing in India is certainly a good option. A November 2006 ASSOCHAM study estimates share of real estate in FDI to rise to 26% by the close of 2007 from around 16% last year. Table 1 shows the levels of investments that have taken place in the first quarter of 2007.
|Investor||Entity||Location||Investment Type and Sector||Stake (%)||Investment Amount (USD million)|
|Evolvence India||Emaar-MGF||Delhi||Entity level||n/a||41|
|Evolvence India||CCCL (Consolidated Construction Consortium Ltd)||Chennai||Entity level||n/a||12|
|IL&FS||Ansals Properties & Infrastructures (APIL)||Delhi||SPV||49||29|
|HDFC Realty Fund||Ansals Properties & Infrastructures (APIL)||Delhi||SPV, commercial IT Parks||33||n/a|
|Nakheel Group||Parsvnath||Pan India||Entity level, residential and commercial||50||550|
|Nakheel Group||DLF||Gurgaon, Mumbai and Pune||Entity level, residential||50||10,000|
|Morgan Stanley Special Situations Real Estate Fund||Oberoi Constructions||Mumbai||Entity level, mixed use||10.75||152|
|Samsara Capita||IDEB Projects||Bangalore||Entity level||n/a||33|
|TPG-Axon Capital||DivyaSree Developers||Bangalore||Entity level||n/a||100|
|Vornado Realty||Gurgaon SEZ||Delhi||SPV, industrial||50||n/a|
|Starwoods Hotels & Resort||Brigade Hotels||Bangalore||SPV, hotels||n/a||n/a|
|Citigroup Venture Capital International Maurtius Ltd||Indu Projects||Hyderabad||Entity level||9||33|
|Goldman Sachs||Unitech||Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore||SPV, mixed use||33||66|
|Trinity Capital||April 2006||500|
|Eredene Capital||May 2006||115|
|India Hospitality Corp||August 2006||100|
|Ishaan Real Estate Plc (K.Raheja)||November 2006||405|
|Unitech Corporate Parks Plc||December 2006||750|
|Hirco Plc (Hiranandani||December 2006||750|
Source: Jones Lang LaSalle Research, 1Q07
SPV: special purpose vehicle
As listing in local markets (BSE/NSE) gets difficult many investors are trying to look west. The Alternate Investment Market (AIM) with its easier norms has been one of the easiest foreign shores where various players have raised money (Table 2). These funds will be used in FDI (foreign direct investment)-compliant mega property projects ranging from residential townships to commercial establishments across the country.
Table 2: Firms listed in AIMNameDateCapital(USD million)Trinity CapitalApril 2006500Eredene CapitalMay 2006115India Hospitality CorpAugust 2006100Ishaan Real Estate Plc (K.Raheja)November 2006405Unitech Corporate Parks PlcDecember 2006750Hirco Plc (HiranandaniDecember 2006750
Lately, there have been many flags raised and questions asked in this context. As investments increased so did the prices and the obvious fear of a real estate bubble. With no clear methodologies and norms on valuations, there was the imperative fear of the bulls chasing away the bears and shattering many dreams. There were doubts raised on what to define as an FII investment vis-à-vis FDI.
Some of the issues, which have been raised or resolved, are –
1) On issues of pre-IPO placement, the finance ministry has concluded that if FIIs wish to invest in a pre-IPO placement of realty companies, the investment would be classified as foreign direct investment, or FDI, which is subject to a longer lock-in period, thus trying to eliminate the speculation in such investments.
2) On valuations, the SEBI issued directives that valuations of real estate companies to be based on their development plans and not on their land banks. There is also a proposal for valuers to be registered with the SEBI.
With the advent of Real Estate Mutual Funds (REMFs), corporate governance issues, stricter compliance by players, maturing markets and greater transparency this market offers great potential for its players – be it the developers, funds, FIIs or retail investors. Also the new locations in mind of investors would be the Tier III cities which offer fewer entry barriers in the form of competitive land prices and availability of land banks.
(The writer is a Sr Analyst with Strategic Consultant & Research in Jones Lang LaSalle Property Consultants India)