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Cube Highways raises 3,500 cr from SBI to acquire NHAI toll roads

The TOT model developed by the NHAI uses a one-time, upfront concession fee paid to the government in return for the right to operate, maintain and collect tolls over 30 years on select operational national highway stretches.Premium
The TOT model developed by the NHAI uses a one-time, upfront concession fee paid to the government in return for the right to operate, maintain and collect tolls over 30 years on select operational national highway stretches.

  • Cube had won the TOT3 bundle with a bid of 5,011 crore in December, but the transaction got delayed due to the impact on toll revenues due to covid-19 and the nationwide lockdown

MUMBAI: Cube Highways and Infrastructure on Tuesday announced an agreement with State Bank of India (SBI) for a Rs3,500 crore term loan facility to purchase the third bundle of road assets auctioned under the government’s toll-operate-transfer (TOT) model.

This is one of the largest financings in India’s road sector, said Cube Highways, which was set up by global infrastructure investment firm I Squared Capital and counts Abu Dhabi Investment Authority among its shareholders.

The company had won the TOT3 bundle with a bid of 5,011 crore in December. However, the transaction was delayed because of the impact on toll revenues following the coronavirus outbreak and the consequent nationwide lockdown. Once transaction closes, Cube, India’s most prolific road assets buyer, will have 8,400 lane km across 27 highways, including assets that are under various stages of closing.

The TOT model developed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) uses a one-time, upfront concession fee paid to the government in return for the right to operate, maintain and collect toll over 30 years on select national highway stretches. The TOT3 bundle consists of nine road stretches with 2,265 lane km across four geographically diverse states. These stretches have shown a healthy ramp-up of traffic after the lockdown was lifted, Cube said.

“The financing raised from SBI is a 20-year facility with an interest rate of 8%. The deal had slowed down because of covid-19 as SBI wanted to wait and see the recovery in toll collections. Now, with toll collections seeing a healthy recovery post the unlocking of the economy, the bank was comfortable with going ahead with the financing," said a person aware of the discussions, requesting anonymity as he is not authorized to speak with the media. Cube will take over the operations of these toll roads by mid-October, he said.

“We are very pleased to complete a crucial milestone for taking over the TOT3 bundle project stretches from NHAI. Achieving this milestone amid the covid-19 pandemic reflects Cube Highways’ strong franchise in India and the robust nature of the projects," said Gautam Bhandari, director of Cube Mobility Investments Pte. Ltd. and managing partner, I Squared Capital.

India Ratings has assigned a AA rating to the TOT3 bundle.

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