Home >News >India >Brookfield, NIIF, Actis place bids to buy Ashoka Concessions

NEW DELHI : Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management Inc., India’s quasi-sovereign wealth fund National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and private-equity firm Actis Llp have placed bids to buy Ashoka Concessions Ltd in a deal with an implied equity value of around $350 million, said two people aware of the development.

EY is running the sales process for the highways infrastructure firm.

“It is now to be decided who gets the exclusivity on the deal that has an enterprise value (EV) of around $1.2 billion," one of the two people cited above said, requesting anonymity.

The roads portfolio of Ashoka Concessions comprises 15 assets, including six operational build, operate, transfer (BOT) toll projects, one operational BOT annuity project and eight under-construction hybrid annuity projects.

Ashoka Buildcon Ltd has a 61% stake in Ashoka Concessions, and the remaining 39% is held by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA), one of the biggest foreign infrastructure investors in India.

In 2012, Macquarie, through its first India-focused fund, bought a stake in Ashoka Concessions for 800 crore. It finalized the deal jointly with State Bank of India.

Spokespersons for Brookfield, Actis, Macquarie Group and EY declined to comment.

“As per NIIF policy, we do not comment on market speculation and information gathered from third-party sources," said an external spokesperson for NIIF in an emailed response.

Queries emailed to a spokesperson for Ashoka Buildcon on Monday remained unanswered.

To be sure, the sale process for Ashoka Concessions has been in the works for long. The person cited above did not give a timeline when a deal would be completed.

Mint reported on 6 December about Actis looking to buy Ashoka Concessions. I Squared Capital-owned Cube Highways had also shown interest in buying Ashoka Concessions.

This comes against the backdrop of the Modi administration lining up a large infrastructure capital expenditure plan. India has already awarded 13,000km length of roads involving an investment of 3.3 trillion under the 5.35 trillion Bharatmala project and plans to award another 8,500km of roads by next month. The Union budget for fiscal 2022 increased the outlay for road transport and highways ministry to 1.18 trillion.

Investors are looking at opportunities attracted by the government’s intensified focus on the infrastructure sector.

With more than $575 billion in assets under management, Brookfield has been placing bets on India’s infrastructure space, investing around $20 billion in the country so far. It recently bid to buy a majority stake in Fortum Oyj’s 500 megawatts (MW) solar projects in India, in a deal estimated at about half a billion euros. It also signed an exclusivity agreement to buy Mahindra Susten’s engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) business, and 1.2 gigawatts (GW) of solar assets, at an enterprise value of around 5,000 crore, as reported by Mint.

With $4.5 billion of equity capital commitments across its three funds, NIIF has a road project platform in India with Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board’ (PSP Investments) ROADIS, that plans to invest $2 billion as equity in acquiring road assets in India.

Actis, which invests only in emerging markets, on its part, has committed $2.1 billion to India and has been operating in the energy, financial services and real estate sectors.

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