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The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) relaxed fundraising rules on Friday for infrastructure debt mutual funds in its continued bid to channel long-term capital to finance the country's highways, toll roads and bridges.

The SEBI said on Friday it would allow foreign feeder funds that get at least 20 per cent of their managed assets from long-term investors such as sovereign wealth funds and pension funds to qualify as "strategic investors".

That distinction is important given SEBI requires these infrastructure debt funds (IDFs), which operate as mutual funds, to get a minimum commitment of Rs 250 million from strategic investors before launching.

IDFs were first announced in 2011 by the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to channel long-term capital to fund India's infrastructure needs, but such funds have seen little traction in the last two years.

India allows two types of IDFs, ones that operate as mutual funds and are supervised by SEBI and others that operate as non-banking financial companies and are regulated by the central bank.

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