The real estate sector, which has seen subdued growth in recent times, is just a few years away from revival, and DLF is all set to cash in on the opportunity, CEO Rajeev Talwar told HT. Excerpts:
The promoters are likely to infuse Rs 10,000 crore into the company. Why did it take so long for them to put in funds to reduce debt?
The increase in debt on the company’s books has primarily been due to RentCo, which includes our rental business from office and retail projects. We had hoped that an upswing in sales will help reduce the debt of DevCo, under which all residential projects fall. However, the subdued sentiment in the market, coupled with the fact that the promoter compulsory convertible preference shares issue needed to be resolved satisfactorily led the promoters to infuse funds, which will result in a significant reduction in debt.
There are reports that your REIT won’t be launched even in this fiscal (201617). What is holding the company back?
In October 2015, we had made our monetisation strategy very clear. The first step towards this will be to get institutional investors into the rent company and at a future date, both partners will decide on the timing of the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).
Around 40% in DLF Cyber City Developers was to be sold to foreign funds. When do you expect the deal to happen?
This is purely a market-linked transaction and we continue to evaluate proposals that come our way. In our analyst presentations, we have articulated that we hope to conclude the transaction in this fiscal.
What are your Noida plans?
We are in Noida with DLF Mall of India. As far as the residential segment is concerned, DLF never considered having a presence in that area. At least in near future we do not see ourselves in Noida’s residential market.
What is your outlook for the residential property market?
We are beginning to see renewed interest and some sales. This is a positive and revival of the sector should be a few quarters away, till the current oversupply is absorbed. The passing of the Real Estate Regulatory Bill will boost confidence in the sector.
Commercial real estate segment is heading for a steady revival. This is thanks to the steps taken by the government in improving the business sentiment and ease of doing business in India. In 2015 – 16, we witnessed demand for commercial space in our properties. Samsung has leased a large area from us. Overall across the country, particularly Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata, saw healthy absorption of commercial space.
Blackstone has started inching closer to your company in the commercial real estate portfolio, how do you see the competition?
We are very well-positioned within the rental segment, and are very satisfied with our positioning. Competition is always welcome and healthy, if it results in the overall growth of the industry.