Private equity firm I Squared Capital has agreed to acquire a road project from Madhucon Projects Ltd for Rs 248 crore (about $37 million).
Madhucon said in a stock market filing it will sell its entire 100 per cent stake in Madhucon Agra-Jaipur Expressways Ltd to Singapore-based Cube Highways and Infrastructure, the Indian toll road and transportation investment platform of I Squared Capital.
The project, between Bharatpur and Mahua in Rajasthan, is the second asset that I Squared is buying within a year on the busy Agra-Jaipur highway that connects the two tourist destinations.
In December last year, I Squared had agreed to acquire 100 per cent of Jaipur Mahua Tollway Pvt Ltd (JMTPL) from Malaysia-based IJM Corporation for about Rs 525 crore ($85 million).
I Squared has been increasing its exposure to India's infrastructure sector over the past year. In October last year, the World Bank's investment arm, International Finance Corporation, had committed up to $90 million of equity investment in a Singapore-based holding company of I Squared to acquire operating road assets in India.
In April this year, I Squared raised $3 billion in a global fund that will invest in assets across several markets, including India. In August, it invested an undisclosed amount in Amplus Energy Solutions Pvt Ltd, an operator of rooftop solar power systems in India.
Madhucon Agra-Jaipur Expressways runs a 63-km project on NH 11 on build-operate-transfer basis. The Hyderabad-based infrastructure firm, part of Madhucon Group, had won a 25-year contract for the project from the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) in 2006 to widen the two-lane road into a four-lane highway. The project started commercial operations in May 2009 and started collecting toll the same month.
“This acquisition underscores our belief in the Indian toll road sector and is consistent with our strategy of adding carefully selected, high quality assets to our professionally managed road platform,” said Gautam Bhandari, director at Cube Highways.
Initially, the PE firm will acquire a 74 per cent stake, with the remaining 26 per cent subject to approval from the NHAI. The deal is subject to closing adjustments and regulatory approvals and includes operational grants for the entire major maintenance period.
“This acquisition enables Cube Highways to operate a contiguous 166 kilometer stretch of NH 11, and will result in significant operational synergies with Cube Highways’ existing investment in JMTPL,” said Harikishan Reddy, CEO of Cube Highways Advisors.
Mumbai-based investment bank Equirus Capital acted as the exclusive advisor to the Madhucon Group for the transaction, while law firm Nishith Desai Associates was the legal counsel.
Founded by Nama Nageswar Rao in 1983, Madhucon Group executes projects in the road, airport, hotel, irrigation, hydroelectric power, real estate and water resources sectors.