Piramal seeks investors, hedge funds to raise capital for unfinished houses

Developers have been leaning on lenders like the Piramals to provide the cash needed to complete partly-built projects
Piramal Enterprises is seeking new investors including hedge funds to help raise cash and fund working capital for the real estate projects it lends to so they don’t languish half built.

The firm controlled by billionaire Ajay Piramal is looking to bring in investors alongside its real estate-focused shadow bank unit to help complete projects, said Khushru Jijina, managing director of Piramal Capital & Housing Finance. The focus is on developers the lender has already provided loans to, Jijina said in an interview.

India’s real estate market is grappling with a lingering lockdown that’s slowed construction and sharply crimped new sales in an already struggling market. Developers have been leaning on lenders like Piramal to fund the cash needed to complete partly-built projects to bridge funding gaps resulting from a lack of revenue.

Bringing in the right co-investor “will allow a continued flow of working capital to the developer, which will in turn ensure that the project is completed and our asset quality is conserved,” Jijina said. “We do not want a partner who will only be interested in outright buyouts and then just leave.”

Piramal forecasts having to fund as much as Rs 1,500 crore ($200 million) in working capital to developers to finish projects assuming the firms’ repayments to it are negligible due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Incomplete projects risk straining shadow bank balance sheets further. The sector was struggling even before the virus pandemic. The collapse of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services in 2018 triggered a credit crisis that has since claimed other victims including Dewan Housing Finance and Altico Capital India, another real estate lender. India’s lockdown has only amplified the troubles, as the nation is projected to tilt into its first economic contraction in decades.

Piramal Enterprises shares dropped as much as 4.5 per cent to Rs 1,366.65 during the intraday trade on Tuesday, the biggest fall in 7 weeks, before shedding some losses. The stock settled at Rs 1390.15 on the BSE falling 2.94 per cent. On NSE, the company lost 3.09 per cent closing at Rs 1,387.10.

Piramal has raised as much as Rs 8,000 crore in the financial year from April 2020 through debt sales. Combined with its Rs 4,000 crore in cash at the end of March, this will enable Piramal to keep funding its developers while also paying back the Rs 10,000 crore in debt due in the six months ending September, Jijina said.

In addition, Piramal is accelerating a push to diversify its loan book, by trimming the share of its bigger loans. The lender is also aiming to cut debt, including by paying it down with funds raised by improving collections from its borrowers.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel