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Actis may exit first realty PE investment in India

Emerging markets-focused Actis Private Equity might soon exit from its first and only real estate investment in India, according to sources. The global PE firm had invested $25 million in early 2008 in a joint venture company floated with Vaishnavi Group to construct a residential and retail property in Bangalore. According to sources, Actis is in active discussions with the promoters to sell back its stake in the venture.

When contacted, Actis said it could not comment. The management of Vaishnavi Group could not be reached.

According to investment bankers in the know, Vaishnavi Group has adequate reserves to effect this buyback. Actis has around $1 billion invested in India across various sectors, including healthcare, automotive and infrastructure, among others.

Of Actis’ $25-million investment, $7.5 million was for the development of about 925,000 sq ft of residential and retail space at Yeshwantpur, one of Bangalore’s attractive suburbs. The remaining part of the investment was for Vaishnavi Group’s other projects.

The Vaishnavi Group, led by C N Govindaraju, is an established player in the residential market in Bangalore. So far, it has developed around six million sq ft of property, mostly in the premium residential segment.

Global PE firms’ interest in the Indian real estate market has been steady over the past year. PE investment in the sector had hit its peak during the 2005-08 period, when PE players invested close to $12 billion in Indian realty. Now most of these investments are ripe for exits, though some projects are struggling with dwindling sales.

According to real estate consulting firm Cushman & Wakefield, investments in the Indian real estate sector dropped by about 28 per cent to $3.4 billion during 2012 compared with 2011.

Majority of the investments in India were through institutional sales (67 per cent), while the remaining were through PE investments (33 per cent).

“Investment in ready income generating/operational office assets have gained strength over the last few years due to lower risk and steady cash flows associated with this type of investment. With increase in number of high-value transactions in this sector, the market is moving towards a mature phase,” said Sanjay Dutt, executive managing director, South Asia, Cushman & Wakefield.
Source: Business Standard

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