A roads platform operated by the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and I Squared Capital-owned Cube Highways have expressed interest in buying Ashoka Concessions Ltd, a company owned by developer Ashoka Buildcon and Macquarie Infrastructure, said two people aware of the development.
On 5 September, Mint reported that Ashoka Buildcon and Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA), one of the biggest foreign infrastructure investors in India, were seeking buyers for Ashoka Concessions, their roads portfolio.
In 2012, along with State Bank of India, Macquarie, through its first India-focused fund, had purchased a 34% stake in Ashoka Concessions, a platform to own and operate toll-earning road assets, for ₹800 crore. The remaining stake was held by Ashoka Buildcon. Mint had reported on 29 May that Macquarie was looking to exit its roads portfolio in India.
“The sale process has seen interest from a few parties such as NIIF Roadis platform and Cube Highways. These parties have submitted their initial offers to acquire these roads," said the first of the two people cited above, requesting anonymity as the talks are private.
Ashoka Concessions’ roads portfolio comprises 15 assets, including six operational BOT (build, operate, transfer) toll projects, one operational BOT annuity project and eight under-construction hybrid annuity projects. Emails sent to I Squared Capital and Ashoka Buildcon remained unanswered. Spokespeople for NIIF and Macquarie declined to comment on Mint’s queries.
Cube Highways is currently the most active buyer of road assets in the country. In September, the roads platform announced that it is acquiring five hybrid annuity model (HAM) roads from infrastructure developer Dilip Buildcon Ltd. Earlier in March, it agreed to acquire DA Toll Road Pvt. Ltd, which operates a toll road in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, from Reliance Infrastructure Ltd for an enterprise value of around ₹3,600 crore.
It has also bought roads from infra developers such as KNR Construction and Bharat Road Network Ltd.
The NIIF Roadis platform too has been on the lookout for road assets. Mint reported on 26 July that NIIF was in talks to acquire three roads from Subhash Chandra’s Essel group.
The sale of the Ashoka Concessions road portfolio adds to the flurry of activity in India’s roads sector this year.
Deal activity has been driven by large investors such as Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC and Canadian pension fund manager CPPIB backed infrastructure investment trust (InvIT) - IndInfravit Trust.
In July, IndInfravit Trust said it is acquiring nine operational road assets from Sadbhav Infrastructure Project Ltd for ₹6,610 crore.
Road developer IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd announced in August that GIC is investing ₹4,400 crore in its road platform.
Edelweiss Yield Plus Infra fund acquired two roads this year for around $150 million, Mint reported in June.