Macquarie eyes exit from roads platform Ashoka Concessions

Industry:    May, 2019

Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (Mira), one of the biggest foreign infrastructure investors with interests in India, aims to exit its seven-year-old investment in roads platform Ashoka Concessions Ltd, said two people aware of the development.

In 2012, Macquarie, an Australian company, acquired a 34% stake in Ashoka Concessions, a platform to own and operate toll earning road assets, for 800 crore. The remaining stake is held by Ashoka Buildcon.

“Macquarie has started the process of appointing an investment banker to advise it on exiting its stake from the road company. They have met a select number of bankers and are expected to take a decision soon,” said one of the persons mentioned above on the condition of anonymity as the talks are private. “An exit for Macquarie could materialize in the form of sale of road assets or a stake sale at Ashoka Concessions,” the person said.

Ashoka Concessions holds six operational BOT (build, operate, transfer) toll projects, one operational BOT annuity project, and seven under-construction hybrid annuity projects (HAM).

Ashoka Concessions reported a rise in operating income from113.1 crore in fiscal year (FY) 2017 to 131.7 crore in FY18, credit rating agency Icra said in an October report. Net profit, however, fell from 51.1 crore to 11.6 crore in the same period. It has an equity commitment of 640 crore towards the seven HAM projects to be infused over the next three years. Of this, 470 crore is towards five recently awarded projects and170 crore towards two under-construction projects.

The plan to sell its Ashoka Concessions stake is part of Macquarie’s efforts to exit investments from its previous India fund, which it co-sponsored with the State Bank of India, said the other person cited above, also requesting anonymity. “They have several transactions in the works which will provide them exits and they plan to start a couple of other exit processes too,” he said.

A spokesperson for Macquarie did not comment.

Last year, Macquarie, Standard Chartered Private Equity, JM Financial Old Lane, and others agreed to sell their entire holding in GMR Airports Ltd for 3,560 crore to GMR Infrastructure Ltd. The investors had committed had collectively invested  1,500 crore in the airports company since 2011.

Another investment, the Ind-Barath Energy (Utkal) Ltd thermal power plant in Odisha, is under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and is seeking buyers under a court-appointed resolution process.

Mint reported in 2016 that Macquarie sold two operational toll road assets in south India—the Farukhnagar-Jadcherla highway in Andhra Pradesh and the Trichy Tollways project in Tamil Nadu—to Spain’s Abertis Infraestructuras SA for 1,000 crore.

Macquarie’s other investments in India include tower company Viom Networks Ltd, which was acquired by American Tower Corp. in 2015, thermal power producer Adhunik Power, renewable energy company Soham Renewable Energy India and Hindustan Power Projects.

The Australian firm continues to be a major investor in the Indian market. Last year, it won the rights to manage 648km of national highways by bidding 9,681.5 crore in an auction conducted by the National Highways Authority of India.

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