«INFRASTRUCTURE & ASSET FINANCE SUMMIT, 2012 – TETE A TETE The Indian Infrastructure industry witnessed a gathering of the market players brain ...»
EPC contracts and PPP projects are typical structures in Infrastructure Sector, of which the PPP is an unchallenged success model in road sector, opines Mr. S. K. Tripathi, the Deputy Managing Director of JMC Projects (India) Limited. While evaluating the standardization in road sector in India, a comparison was also drawn by the speaker between the level of standardization in the road sector vis-à-vis other major infra sectors. The speaker also dealt with various models of infra funding, viz. equity, debt and grant and leveraging scenario. The key elements of success and stumbling blocks in the development of the road sector were enumerated by Mr. Tripathi.
Mr. Praveen Sethia, Founder & Director of Infrastructure Advisors Private Limited, laid focus on financing road - infrastructure sector and its special needs and concerns. The speaker wisely narrated the transition from nationalization to rationalization in the road sector which emerged out of the need for meeting additional resource requirement and use of resources efficiently ultimately giving birth to public private partnership. However, there are concerns, as pointed out by the speaker, both from the borrower’s and lender’s perspective.
Mr. Sandeep Bhattacharya, VP & Team Head (Emerging Markets) at the Global Credit Rating Team (GCRT) in the Deutsche Bank Group, took up the interesting topic of International PPP models and whether there is any scope for India to learn from these models. Subsequently the speaker raised some other questions also: can PPPs be immune from political pressures? or do governments have a lot of hidden obligations via PPPs?
Infrastructure development has been identified as a key driver of long term economic growth in India and NBFCs had a share of ~10% in overall infrastructure financing space during first three years of the 11th FYP. Mr. Arnab Basu, the Head of Business Development; Infrastructure Project & Structured Finance in Aditya Birla Finance Ltd, discussed on “Bridging the funding gap – Growing role of NBFCs in Infrastructure Financing”. According to the speaker, there is an estimated funding gap in the 12th FYP of ~ Rs. 12,00,000 crores, which represents an opportunity for firms looking to fill the void and in this context, NBFCs are better placed with banks close to hitting sector cap and needing further capitalization with Basel III implementation. Various initiatives undertaken by the Government and at the private level to foster infrastructure finance were also highlighted. As a whole, as the speaker regards it, NBFCs serve as enabling platform by providing a gamut of services across the value chain in infrastructure financing.
Session 3: Power sector and General debt funding options
Various funding options for power sector were explored and evaluated by Mr. Bijoy Daga, Head of Project Finance and Corporate Advisory in ILFS. Loan funding options are available from Scheduled Commercial Banks, Infrastructure Finance Companies, PFIs, ECBs, multilateral funding and export credit agencies. Investor class in the debt capital option consists of Commercial Banks, insurance sector, pension schemes, provident funds, mutual funds and FIIs. Other financing options include Takeout Financing, refinancing by ECB/MFI/FII, Infrastructure Debt Funds and Project Bonds.
Mr. Abhay Athalye, Founder and Managing Partner of AVANTI Infra Advisory LLP deliberated on power sector financing with special focus on renewable energy. The speaker discussed various factors that make India an attractive destination for RE investors as also the various issues in financing RE projects. Evaluating the funding options, the speaker sees significant problems in raising debt funding for new power sector projects. Mr. Athalye also emphasized on critical success factors in financing RE projects.
Union Budget for 2011-12 announced setting up of Infrastructure Debt Funds (IDFs). Mr. S N Baheti, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of IDBI Infrafin Ltd. gave an introduction of IDFs and their relevance to bond market and also threw light on the positive aspects of IDFs that will appeal to all stakeholders, viz. borrowers, lenders, equity holders, infra projects, banking sector, bond market, infra users. The speaker also talked about the expected outcomes that the IDFs are to deliver.
Session 4: Telecom infrastructure financing; shipping and ports; sector risk assessment Telecom constitutes one of the most crucial ingredients of the infrastructure sector. However, it faced a near-about crisis situation when 122 licences were cancelled ultimately leading to reduced business. Mr. Umang Das, the Chief Mentor and President of Viom Networks Limited attracted the attention of the participants to the hard situations overshadowing the telecom industry and tower industry. The speaker presented the Indian Telecom Ecosystem and discussed the major challenges before the telecom industry, which as identified by the speaker are adding costs, regulatory issues and energy considerations. Though an attempt was also made by the speaker in seeing opportunities amidst adversity: both existing and new. It was observed that the cornerstone lies in the industry’s constant endeavor for further optimization of critical network resources.
While talking about the Indian Port Sector, Mr. Subhrarabinda Birabar, Head of Port Sector in Gammon Infrastructure Projects Limited, said that there are several issues involved pertaining to Model Concession Agreement, Tariff Authority of Major Ports, environmental clearance, Maritime Infrastructure funding. The issues were discussed by the speaker elaborately.
While presenting a rating agency's perspective about Infrastructure finance companies, Mr.
Karthik Srinivasan, Co-Head, Financial Sector Ratings of ICRA Limited dealt with issues like capital, leverage and risks in the infrastructure sector. There are general rating issues associated with IFCs, like current challenging operating environment, large ticket exposures, limited seasoning in relation to loan tenure. The speaker also presented an analysis of ICRA rated IFCs and the trends seen in terms of operating profitability, net profitability, asset quality and capital adequacy. Key concerns for the infrastructure sector, risks specific to power sector, telecom sector and road sector were also highlighted by the speaker.
KEY ISSUES DISCUSSED AND KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE SUMMITWhile the industry experts over the two days expressed their concerns on the current lull in the industry and the affirmed that current times were tumultuous in several ways, however, there was a silver lining to the cloud. The two days carried the message of positivity in chorus that all the bottlenecks were ephemeral and the infrastructure and asset finance industry would soon set the ball rolling, attaining sustainable development and growth.
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