The GMR group has sold several of its power, road and airport projects as part of its “asset light, asset right" strategy. The project in question is GMR Kamalanga Energy Ltd at Kamalanga in Dhenkanal.

GMR has 16 power generation projects, of which eight are operational and eight are being built.

“GMR has a strategy of divesting stake in selective assets. The Kamalanga project is being offered for a strategic sale. Sembcorp and Kepco are evaluating it," said a person aware of the development requesting anonymity.

SembCorp and Kepco which are already present in India have plans to ramp up their presence, given the demand for electricity in India. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), around 300 million Indians, or roughly a quarter of the country’s population, do not have access to electricity. India’s per capita power consumption at around 940 kilowatt-hour (kWh), is already among the lowest in the world. In comparison, China has a per capita consumption of 4,000kWh, and developed countries average around 15,000kWh.

While a Mumbai-based power sector analyst requesting anonymity confirmed that GMR was scouting for a buyer for GMR Kamalanga Energy Ltd, a third person who also didn’t wish to be identified said that Kepco was evaluating the Orissa project.

Overseas investors have made several bets on India’s power sector in the last few years. JP Morgan Asset Management invested $150 million in Bhaskar Group’s Diliigent Power Pvt. Ltd in May 2013; Nagarjuna Construction Co. Ltd sold 49% stake in Gayatri Energy Ventures Pvt. Ltd to Sembcorp; and Meenakshi Energy and Infrastructure Holdings Pvt. Ltd offloaded a 74% stake in a 1,000MW coal-fired power project to GDF Suez.

Kepco is also present in the Indian power sector through its subsidiary Korea South-East Power Co. Ltd, which has a 40% stake in Jinbhuvish Power Generations Pvt. Ltd which has a project in Maharashtra.

While a GMR spokesperson declined to comment, queries emailed to spokespersons of Sembcorp and Kepco remained unanswered till press time.

Of late, valuations have become more reasonable, with many Indian promoters looking for investment, if not outright sales.

Their problems include the domestic economic slowdown, high borrowing costs, delays in land acquisition and environmental clearances and fuel shortages. The situation is expected to improve as growth picks up in the coming years.

This comes in the backdrop of power project developers such as GMR cornering coal blocks in the ongoing auction of coal fields. Coal block auctions have drawn more than 2 trillion so far as the centre aims to auction or allot 110 coal mines. Of these, 65 will be auctioned and 45 allotted to state-owned firms in a process to be completed before the end of the current fiscal year. These 110 mines have around 350 mt of reserves. Of these, 42 blocks with a production capacity of 90 mt are operational.

The Economic Survey presented last month said, “With a target of 765.39 billion units (BU) and achievement of 793.73 BU, electricity generation by power utilities has exceeded the target for April-December 2014. Led by double digit growth in thermal sector, a 9.9%growth was achieved in power generation during April-December 2014-15."

Foreign power firms such as Electricite de France SA, GDF Suez SA, Germany’s E.ON AG and Tokyo Electric Power Co. and sovereign funds such as Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional Bhd are actively looking for stakes in Indian power projects.

India has a power generation capacity of 2,58,701.46 MW and plans to add 88,537 MW by 2017. Of this, 46,825 MW has to come from the private sector.

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