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NIIF-Roadis to set up platform to invest $2 billion in road projects

The platform will "target toll-operate-transfer models and acquisitions of existing road concessions". (Reuters/File)

The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and global transport infrastructure operator Roadis on Wednesday said they would jointly set up a platform to invest up to $2 billion of equity in road projects in India.

The platform would "target toll-operate-transfer models and acquisitions of existing road concessions", they said in a statement.

After moving at a slow pace for over two years since its inception in December 2015, NIIF has tied up with several investors and is bidding for assets. Last year, NIIF announced its venture with Dubai-based ports operator DP World to create a fund to invest up to $3 billion of equity in India's transport and logistics sectors. NIIF Master Fund and DP World have acquired 90 per cent of Continental Warehousing through a jointly created platform company, Hindustan Infralog (HIL). This JV was also the successful bidder for a free trade zone project in JNPT, Mumbai. Roadis is a wholly-owned arm of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, one of Canada's largest pension funds.

NIIF's role in infrastructure funding has acquired significance in recent years, given that most public-sector banks are struggling to cope with toxic assets. Also, IL&FS, a key infrastructure refinancer until last year, has been ridden by the crisis. Finance minister Arun Jaitley had earlier said the country required investments worth an estimated Rs 43 lakh crore (about $646 billion) in the infrastructure sector over the next five years. As much as 70 per cent of this requirement will be in power, roads and urban infrastructure.

NIIF currently manages capital invested through three funds: NIIF Master Fund (focuses mainly on core infrastructure and operating assets); NIIF Fund of Funds (invests in funds managed by third-party managers in the infrastructure and associated sectors) and NIIF Strategic Fund (a persified investment strategy, including greenfield projects and debt platforms).

The government has committed Rs 20,000 crore for its planned 49 per cent stake in all NIIF funds. Late last year, NIIF said its master fund had raised around $1.5 billion from a clutch of investors, including Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), Temasek of Singapore, ICICI Bank, HDFC Group, Kotak Mahindra Life Insurance and Axis bank. ADIA has committed $1 billion and Temasek $400 million. As for the NIIF Fund of Funds, the AIIB has approved a $200-million investment.-FE