New Delhi: The Noida-based Jaypee Group will have majority equity participation in all its new businesses as it looks to almost halve its debt level by the end of this fiscal, executive-chairman Manoj Gaur said in an interview on Friday.

The group will control a 65% stake in a healthcare venture that it announced on Friday, Gaur said.

The Jaypee Group will try to reduce its debt to 35,000 crore by the end of this fiscal; the company sold assets worth 15,000 crore during the last financial year to reduce its debt burden. This will be done mostly through its unit Jaiprakash Associates Ltd by selling its cement business, thermal and hydroelectric power plants and land. The group’s current debt is 60,000 crore.

“It is not a question of anybody pressurizing. As far as we are concerned, we took long-term debt and we invested in projects, which are all operational. We never factored in such a slump in economy and all our businesses suffered. When we saw this happening, instead of giving pain to banks, we thought let us take pain for ourselves and we started selling our assets, which are quality assets," Gaur said. ““If we are selling our assets, that does not mean we are exiting that business."

Slowing economic growth has hit power demand from industrial consumers in some parts of the country, which has affected the group’s fortunes. The economy grew less than 5% for the seventh consecutive quarter in the three months ended 31 December as manufacturing output contracted.

“We have learnt some lessons. When we were expanding in cement, power, our equity was in the range of 35-45% and from now on, our equity participation in our new businesses will be higher. We are focused on improving shareholder value," Gaur said.

A case in point being its hospital business. Jaypee hospital in Noida will have a 1,200-bed capacity hospital in Noida and then the chain will be expanded to cities such as Agra, Bulandshahr, Kanpur and Sahibabad.

“Our intention is to make healthcare affordable... at least one-third of what others charge," Gaur said.

The hospital will have 225 doctors. The hospital venture will be led by Rekha Dixit, Gaur’s sister.

The group’s debt level also increased due to its entry into motorsports. The group organized India’s first Formula One race in October 2011, but failed to continue it beyond three seasons.

But, Gaur is hopeful to get the race back in India in two years.

“Formula One was more about prestige," said Gaur. “Sports ventures do not start making money instantly. We are hopeful to get the race back in the country in 1-2 years... once the economy revives," he said.

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