Warburg Pincus is looking to exit joint venture with Embassy Group

“We are just conservative in THE land deals we do, as that’s where the margin is made”- Aditya Virwani, COO, Embassy
US-based private equity fund Warburg Pincus is looking to exit Embassy Industrial Parks, its joint venture with Beng-aluru-based Embassy Group, four-and-a-half years after it signed the $250 million deal to build industrial and warehousing spaces in the country, said sources in the know.

The JV had an equity commitment of $175 million from Warburg, while Embassy was to put in $75 million. “Warburg is not happy with the speed with which the land acquisition and development happened in the JV,” said sources.

Though sources said Embassy’s promoters could buy back Warburg Pincus’s stake in the JV, this could not be independently verified. Warburg did not offer any comments. Aditya Virwani, chief operating officer at Embassy, said they were second biggest portfolio in scale and deploying capital had not been an issue. “We are just conservative in land deals we do as that’s where the margin is made,” he said. Jitu Virwani, chairman of Embassy, could not be contacted. 

The venture is developing industrial and warehousing parks in Pune, the Delhi NCR, Sriperumbudur and Hosur in Tamil Nadu, and Hyderabad in a phased manner.

Aditya Virwani, in an interview last October, said the JV had invested $80 million since it set up operations in 2016, and would invest $250-300 million to complete ongoing projects. He said the JV developed 2.7 million sq ft of space and plans to build 7 million sq ft more.  The JV is planning to build 35 million sq ft of industrial and warehousing space by 2024.  Anshul Singhal, the first CEO of the JV, last year set up his own venture after quitting Embassy Industrial Parks.

Betting on the growing demand from e-commerce, over $5 billion in funds have been committed by PE firms and pension funds such as CPPIB, Warburg Pincus, and Ivanhoé Cambridge, over the past five years. 

But many have realised the challenges in the sector, especially around land acquisition.

“Buying land is a big challenge. Different states have different laws. They change from city to city,” said a PE fund manager, who did not wish to be named.
The total warehousing space is estimated at 739 million sq ft in 2019 for the manufacturing sector, projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5 per cent over the next five years to 922 million sq ft, according to Knight Frank India’s Warehousing Market 2019 report.

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