Tata, Actis Bid on $2 Billion Indian Road Projects

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Tata Group and private equity firm Actis aim to bid for $2 billion of road projects in India over the next five years as the country makes a major push to build highways, a senior Actis official said on Thursday.

“We are quite optimistic and will be bidding for 5-6 new construction projects this year,” Sanjiv Agarwal, head of infrastructure at Actis in South Asa, said over telephone.

Italy’s biggest toll operator, Atlantia (ATL.MI), will also be part of the consortium, he said.

India has made building of roads, bridges, airports and power plants a priority and expects private firms to fund half of a projected $1 trillion in infrastructure between 2012 and 2017.

TRIL Roads Pvt Ltd, a unit of unlisted Tata Realty & Infrastructure, will invest $122.5 million and Actis will contribute $77.5 million for the roads and highway projects, the two companies said in a joint statement.

Atlantia, which is a technical partner of Tata Realty, has agreed to invest $300 million to pick up a stake in special purpose vehicles to be floated for setting up the projects, Agarwal said.

Another $300 million will be available from the Indian government as viability gap funding and the remaining $1.3 billion will be raised from financial institutions, the Economic Times newspaper had said earlier.

Viability gap funding is the money put in by the state to close the shortfall between the cost of an infrastructure project and the money private investors are willing to spend.

London-based Actis had raised $750 million last year to invest in power generation and transport in emerging markets. [ID:nSGC003316]

“A lot of reforms in the recent past in India has increased interest for foreign investments in infrastructure,” said Agarwal, who joined Actis in May 2008 after leaving Citigroup (C.N) where he was heading power, energy chemicals, mining & transportation businesses for India.

“We are actively pursuing opportunities in power generation and infrastructure,” he said. (Reporting by Indulal P.M.;Writing by Janaki Krishnan; Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan)