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Retail, warehousing saw increased Private Equity interest in 2016

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Apart from the favourite asset classes of office and residential, private equity (PE) has been taking increased interest in warehousing, logistics and retail real estate. PE investors and overseas developers are already looking at opportunities to enter India’s industrial and warehousing sector by investing in various development projects.
Investors from other nations, in general, and Asian countries such as China, Japan and Korea, in particular, have shown a lot of interest industrial development projects. A few key announcements that show their increasing interest are:

  • ‘Wanda Industrial New City’; Dalian Wanda Group
  • Industrial Parks by China Fortune Land Development Company Private (CFLD)
  • Development of smart cities by ZTE Corporation
  • Neemrana Japanese investment zone
  • Mandal Becharaji, Japanese investment zone
  • SUPA, Japanese investment zone
  • Chinese industrial zone in Vadodara
  • Ascendas-Singbridge exploring multiple portfolios of industrial and logistics parks across India.

With the implementation of Goods and Service Tax (GST), warehousing and logistics’ spaces will start to see a consolidation of assets. Unlike earlier (small assets in various states), developers will focus on the development of large-scale, technologically advanced warehouses. Such assets will attract private equity (PE) investors, since they can deploy a larger amount in fewer assets, making monitoring easier. If they perform well, such assets can even fetch a better valuation when monetising through REITs or other ways.
Retail Assets Gaining Attention
In the past few months, key leasehold retail assets across the country have come on the PE radar. A few reasons include well-managed Grade-A malls starting to enjoy better occupancy with rent escalation on the cards, after a lull of six to seven years. Such well-managed assets/ entities will attract investor focus.
A Few Key Deals Seen in 2016 Were:

  • GIC bought a 50% stake in Viviana Mall of Sheth Developers in Mumbai
  • Blackstone acquired the retail portfolio of Alpha G Corp through an entity level deal
  • Blackstone has progressed well in acquiring a stake in the retail assets of L&T in Navi Mumbai
  • Blackstone buying 50% stake in Pune’s Westend Mall

Leasehold retail property usually has a higher probability of success as the developer is actively involved in the key functions of mall management, especially tenant management. Various new regulations like easing foreign investment for single-brand retailers, longer shopping hours and an updated framework for establishing Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) have attracted the attention of various private equity funds like Blackstone, Xander, GIC, Morgan Stanley, towards the Indian retail real estate sector. Various retail mall developers are also looking to sell their existing retail assets and raise funds for expansion.

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