New York-headquartered investment firm Brahma Management has outbid Bharti Group and Unitech to clinch a 13-acre land parcel in Gurgaon for Rs 620 crore in possibly the largest land deal in the country post the economic slowdown.

The bids, which were unveiled on Friday, were for one of the largest remaining patches of commercial property put on auction by the Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation (HSIDC). The property is located on NH-8 next to the JapaneseCollege and closer to Palm Court in Gurgaon. 

Brahma's bid was higher than Bharti's Rs 615 crore and Unitech's Rs 550 crore, sources familiar with the development said. Anand Raj Industries was another bidder who was technically qualified for the HSIDC auction. When contacted, Gulbir Madan, managing partner, Brahma Management, confirmed the winning bid. "We offered Rs 620 crore for one of the finest and largest pieces of land available for commercial development in Gurgaon," he told VCCircle.

Brahma is an India-focused asset management company with over $500 million under management. "We invest in real estate, private and public companies. Brahma invests through private equity and hedge funds," Madan added.

In recent weeks, Brahma, a low-profile entity, also clinched a 50% stake buy in Cobra Beer India for roughly $7.5 million. Currently, Brahma has at least four large ongoing real estate developments, including a joint development with DLF in Panchkula.

Several earlier state-led auctions for prime property parcels have attracted robust valuations and intense competition among bidders particularly in the boom time. Since the global economic slowdown depressed consumer sentiment and sent many a developer reeling under a severe liquidity crunch, there has not been much of activity on bulge-bracket property deals in auctions in recent months, a sector watcher said.

Indeed, the bid by Bharti, one of India's largest business conglomerates, reflects the growing interest of several corporate houses in real estate assets. Private sector behemoths like Bharti, Tatas and Reliance Industries have been on the prowl for yielding or developing assets, especially as valuations remain subdued, industry sources said. Apart from auctions, corporates appear to be leading the trend of buying land and property assets from real estate developers, who may be looking at such divestments to generate more liquidity into the system, a property consultant said.

There could be heightened interest in property deals, in the short to medium term, from realty players as well. A few realty developers, who are in the fortunate situation of having escaped a debt trap, are now looking at raising funds for land banking for future projects. A realty consultant said, it is such opportunistic players who will make the most of subdued property prices. So, if there is liquidity, this could be the right time for corporates, who are looking at building offices or campuses, to strike property deals, he added.

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