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NHAI eyes Rs 3,000 cr from Masala bonds, Asian investors lap up 60%

Union minister Nitin Gadkari ringing the opening bell at the LSE while flagging off NHAI rupee-denominated offshore bond offer targeted at raising capital for India’s infrastructure projects.

business Updated: May 12, 2017 13:30 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Nitin Gadkari,NHAI,Masala bond
(PTI photo)

The National Highways Authority of India’s first overseas Masala bond issue mopped up Rs 3,000 crore at the London Stock Exchange.

The bond issue, which was launched by Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday, witnessed an overwhelming response from a wide range of investors.

The initial issue amount of Rs 1,500 crore was upsized to Rs 3,000 crore at a price yielding 7.30% annually in view of the highly positive response from the investormarket.

The transaction marks the largest ever 5 year issuance and the largest inaugural transaction in Masala Bond market. Some of the leading investors were still showing interest in the NHAI issue who may be brought into the fold in the near future.

The NHAI Masala Bond issue has attracted investors from across the spectrum with Asia contributing 60% of the subscription and the balance 40% coming from Europe.

Further, 61% of the amount comes from the Fund Managers or Insurance, 18% from the Banks and 21% from the private banks.

“India gives the highest priority for infrastructure development. Our economy is the fastest growing in the world. NHAI is a flagship organisation, with AAA rating and we have many big projects to offer,” Gadkari said at the London Stock Exchange market opening ceremony.

“The NHAI is financially a very strong organisation. This is the first time we have entered the Masala Bond market and I am confident that we will get a good response,” said the road transport, highways and shipping minister.

“The total infrastructure picture in India is changing very rapidly and we need financial support from international investors. We can guarantee that all our projects are economically viable, with good rate of return,” he said.

In reference to the progress already made, Gadkari pointed to a hike in road construction figures, from just 2 kilometres per day when he took charge of the transport ministry to 23 kilometres a day at the end of March this year.

Elaborating on road construction facts and figures, he said that India had 52 lakh kilometres of road length out of which only 96,000 kilometres is the national highway, meaning that 40 per cent of the country’s traffic is concentrated on just 2 per cent of the roads.

The government’s target is to increase this length from 96,000 kilometres to 2 lakh kilometres, he said.

“The minister is someone who is a visionary, who gets things done. We are now on a roll with Masala Bonds. London is the financial centre of the world and the right place for more Masala Bond issuances,” said Alok Sharma, the Minister for Asia in the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), at the ceremony.

It was attended by Indian High Commissioner to the UK Yashvardhan Kumar Singh, deputy High Commissioner Dinesh K Patnaik and the NHAI chairman Yudhvir Singh Malik, among others.

“This is a symbolic transaction for a number of reasons. We are hoping it would be the world’s largest-ever Masala Bond. This bond will support the largest road building and transport infrastructure programme in the world. There is a huge appetite for investments in Indian infrastructure and confidence in the Indian economy,” said Nikhil Rathi, CEO of London Stock Exchange plc, who described Gadkari as a “reformer and innovator.”

According to the London Stock Exchange, there are 38 Masala Bonds currently in the market, raising around 5 billion dollars.

During his visit to the UK this week, Gadkari has meetings scheduled with Transport for London (TfL) authorities on road safety and other issues and will also be addressing a UK India Conclave on the theme of‘A New Era in UK-India Relations’ before he leaves for India on Saturday.

First Published: May 11, 2017 20:35 IST