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3i India to pick stake in Soma's road projects

UK-based private equity firm 3i is said to be in talks with Soma Enterprises, a Hyderabad-based infrastructure company, to pick up equity stakes in some of the latter’s build-operate-transfer (BOT) road projects.

ources the deal is expected to close in the next few weeks.

Soma is constructing eight road projects on a public private partnership basis under the BOT model. It is also operating the Nellore bypass road, commissioned in August 2004.

As it happens, 3i already has a seat on the Soma board; it had invested $101 million (Rs 460 crore) to pick up a minority stake in Soma in November 2007. Soma is an engineering procurement and construction (EPC) company and operates across various segments such as roads, irrigation, hydropower and urban infrastructure.

When asked about the deal, Anil Ahuja, Head of Asia for 3i, termed it market speculation and refused to comment. An e-mail sent to Soma Enterprises wasn’t answered.

Soma has a turnover of Rs 2,012 crore and an order book of Rs 14,200 crore.

Soma apart, 3i India has invested in many infrastructure companies. Examples are $161 million in Krishnapatnam Port Company in 2009 and $227 million in Adani Power in 2007. These investments were made out of the $1.2 billion (Rs 5,500 crore) 3i India Infrastructure Fund, which the firm had raised in 2007. The fund focuses on the power, ports, road and airports sectors, and targets individual investments of between $50 million and $200 million.

Internationally, 3i has total assets worth £8 billion under management and is present across 12 countries. In addition to a thrust on infrastructure it invests across sectors like oil and gas, technology media and telecommunications, business services, healthcare, consumer, general industrial segments and financial services.

Source: Business Standard

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