New Delhi: Even as the elections to chose the 17th Lok Sabha are ongoing, the deal activity continues unabated, said several deal makers, investment bankers and promoters Mint spoke to. Earlier the investors adopted a ‘wait and watch’ approach till the general elections’ results were announced.
The election cycle will last a little over two months, with India holding the general elections in seven phases to simultaneously elect governments at the Centre and in four states of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. The world’s largest democratic exercise is spread over six weeks, as the polling began on 11 April. The last phase will end on 19 May and the results will be announced on 23 May.
“The investor appetite for India’s infrastructure space has undergone a paradigm shift with new investments no longer being held to ransom pending the outcome of a national election. There is a consensus that the infrastructure visions are broadly similar across the political hue but more importantly the investor belief that the India infrastructure story is genuine, sizeable and very competitive," said Rupesh Agarwal, founder, AEM, an electric bus company.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has promised to spend ₹100 lakh crore on infrastructure by 2024, the Congress Party in its manifesto stated, “All available models and instrumentalities will be used to build infrastructure—public sector, private sector and public-private partnership."
“There is a growing investor’s interest in the India renewable story and short-term events such as the ongoing elections don’t have a bearing on it. This is driven by the belief that no political dispensation will turn the wheels on liberalisation or ongoing reforms. The fact that we closed a 200 MW (mega watt) acquisition a few weeks back shows that we are confident about the India’s green energy story," said Actis partner Sanjiv Aggarwal, heading its Asia energy business.
Actis Llp’ renewable energy platform, Sprng Energy, acquired Shapoorji Pallonji group’s solar assets last month for an enterprise value of $200 million. The global private equity (PE) fund that invests solely in emerging markets is also in talks to buy the Indian solar power business of French energy firm Engie SA and the Indian hydroelectric assets of Singapore’s Equis Pte. Ltd.
“It shows the confidence that people have in the long term growth story of India rather in the short term events like the upcoming general elections. Now it is up to the Indian government to provide a very stable regulatory and policy environment so that investors are not disappointed at a later date," said Amplus Energy Solutions Pvt. Ltd’s founder and chief executive officer Sanjeev Aggarwal.
Malaysia’s state-run oil and gas company, Petroliam Nasional Bhd or Petronas on Monday said it has acquired Amplus , one of India’s largest rooftop solar power producers. The ₹2,700 crore deal, which is expected to be completed later this month, marks Petronas’ foray into the global clean energy space.
“A typical deal in India has several conditions precedent (CPs) which needs to be fulfilled. A buyer puts this as part of the agreement that allows her to even walk away from the contract even if its is inked. This typically includes a change in the macroeconomic environment, if any," said the head of one of India’s largest deal making firm requesting anonymity.
In the ongoing general elections, the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance is fighting the challenge posed by the Congress, and several regional parties, including the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.
This also comes at a time when India-focused distressed assets funds may see higher deal activity in pre-National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) cases with the Supreme Court quashing the Reserve Bank of India’s 12 February 2018 circular.
“Recent deals such as Petronas buying Amplus, or Matrix investing in OLA Electric or National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF)- Roadis are testimony to investor faith in the Indian infrastructure story sans the ongoing national election," added Rupesh Agarwal who had earlier worked at consulting firms EY and BDO, and also headed the Indian operations of UK-based Lightsource Renewable Energy.
According to consultancy firm Bain and Co., private equity and venture capital-backed exits surged in the past two years, doubling to $31.8 billion in 2018.
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