Happy days are back for India’s realty industry

October 4th, 2009 - 3:35 pm ICT by IANS  

By Anuradha Shukla
New Delhi, Oct 4 (IANS) India’s realty industry is all set to be lit up this Diwali. The pointers: At least 12 public offerings, a slew of new projects and the return of private equity funds that had turned away proposals due to the global slowdown last year.

“After weathering the worst funds crisis for 18 months the realty sector has now started seeing inflow of capital and funds,” said Anuj Puri, the country head of leading global realty brokerage firm Jones Lang LaSalle-Meghraj.

“Sales are improving and private equity funds are coming back. With market sentiments getting bullish, prospects of fund-raising are even brighter. You can now see how every company is taking the QIP route to raise funds,” Puri told IANS.

QIP, or qualified institutional placement, is a tool to raise capital whereby a listed company issues equity shares, fully or partly convertible debentures or securities, instead of warrants, to institutional buyers.

After losing almost 75 percent of its stock valuation last year, India’s realty sector has raised about $15 billion (Rs.750 billion/Rs.75,000 crore) through routes like QIP in the past six months, analysts say.

Among the developers who have started mopping up funds over the past few months are the largest player in the industry, DLF Ltd, with $780 million, Unitech with $325 million and Indiabulls Real Estate with $550 million.

“Last year was really very painful. But this year the demand is improving. Buyers have started returning. We are expecting good sales this Diwali,” Rohtash Goel, chairman and managing director of Omaxe, told IANS.

Seeing the success of such companies and also sensing the return of buyers in the market after a year-long lull, 12 more realty firms have planned to enter the primary market over the next two-three months, analysts said.

“If a project is viable with realistic pricing and deadlines, there is no dearth of buyers,” said Red Fort Capital managing director Parry Singh. “Now that realtors are setting prices, things are improving,” Singh told IANS.

According to industry estimates, these companies, including Emaar MGF, Lodha Developers, Sahara Prime City and Ambience, are together expected to raise around $4-5 billion from the primary market.

Emaar MGF is hoping to raise $775 billion with an offer of of $11.7 million in shares. The Sahara group’s realty arm, Sahara Prime City, is eyeing a pie of $690 million while the Mumbai-based Lodha Developers has targeted $500 million.

This apart, Ambience, which has operations in the National Capital Region, has filed a draft prospectus for a $260-million offer, while Godrej Properties, BPTP, Oberoi Constructions and Nitesh Estates are also eyeing the primary market for funds.

The bullish sentiments seem to have rubbed off on private equity funds as well, who are making a beeline for developers. Red Fort has picked up a 22-percent stake in Parsvnath La Tropicana, a high-end residential project in Delhi, for $25 million.

Similarly, global investment fund IREO announced Sep 29 it would invest $2 billion to develop an integrated township with 20,000 flats in Gurgaon, adjacent to the national capital, and in an outsourcing and shopping hub, over seven-eight years.

Apart from luring financiers, price corrections have also led to buyers returning to the market, even as the challenging times because of the slowdown led to the small and non-serious players closing shop or selling their businesses to bigger developers.

“The realty industry has finally learnt the lesson that it’s not freebies that attract buyers. If a project is on time, pricing is correct and the procedure transparent, buyers will always be there in the market,” said LaSalle’s Puri.

Seeing buyers, developers have started planning new projects — evident from the number of advertisements that have started reapprearing in newspapers. Omaxe is set to launch four projects soon and Parsvnath recently launched three with more in the pipeline.

Said Parsvnath chairman and managing director Pradeep Jain: “In boom times, everybody turned a developer. But the slowdown was the real test and it removed small and non-serious players from the market.”

(Anuradha Shukla can be reached at anuradha.s@ians.in and biz@ians.in)

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