Edu-infra firm Cerestra to raise offshore fund, eyes InvITs

Edu-infra firm Cerestra Advisors Ltd, which is raising a domestic fund with a target corpus of Rs 1,000 crore, is planning to tap into offshore investors in its second outing. 

A top executive of the company told Mint that while it is deploying capital, it also out on road to raise funds for its first fund. “We plan to finish fundraising by early next year, after which we want to raise an offshore fund in the same education infrastructure space,” Jasmeet Chhabra, managing partner, Cerestra Advisors, was quoted in the report. He said the aim of the fund is to strike around 15 deals at an average value of $10 million and list them under infrastructure investment trust (InvIT) sometime next year. 

It has so far brought a couple of deals under its kitty while some more are in discussion stage. As first reported by VCCircle, it bought school assets from Mumbai-based Witty International. It has also bought a clutch of assets from Bangalore based Jain Group of Institutions (JGI) that was pegged at Rs 240 crore. In addition, the firm was in talks with Dubai-based Global Education Management Systems (GEMS) International School to acquire one of its assets in India.

“The fund is a precursor to our objective of doing an InvIT. A decent-sized InvIT would be one of $350-500 million in portfolio value, and we plan to bring in our own assets along with the option of pooling in assets from another entity in the same sector to bring it up to a certain size and then list it,” Chhabra said in the report. 

Cerestra was set up as an affiliate of Religare’s asset management arm Religare Global Asset Management (RGAM). As part of the financial services company’s consolidation move, it sold its stake in Cerestra to London- and Dubai-based private investment firm The Capital Partnership Group Ltd (TCP) for an undisclosed amount. The deal marks TCP's entry into the Indian real estate investments segment. This is Religare’s second deal with TCP in less than six months.

VCCircle had first reported that Religare was setting up a real estate-focused PE arm that will pool in assets for listing them eventually. The firm last year came out with a plan to raise a Rs 1,000 crore fund to invest in education infrastructure across the country.

Meanwhile, infrastructure investment trust, as a new way of raising capital by listing assets, has been lapped by investors. Cerestra joins its peers such as Tata Realty, IL&FS Transportation and GMR Infrastructure which have set their eyes on it. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has so far given approval to MEP Infrastructure and IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd to list their trusts.

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