2012:Tougher Year for Fund Raising

Due to global issues, liquidity is becoming a problem. Though the phase is temporarily, the concern cannot be ruled out. Indian real estate sector is banking on the fact that change will take place and market will come out of the situation. The fact of the matter is that next 12 months and in fact 2012, does not look too bright for the sector.

The global debt worries have led to more and more uncertainty. In the last few months, the sector has been plagued by a potential liquidity squeeze. The situation is very unsettling and the fear is that we might end up looking at the year 2008 situation. It is certain that banks will get into selective lending with more strict verifications. In 2012, we are expecting that interest rates might get stabilized but disbursal of home loans will come down.

As RBI has been steadily increasing interest rates, debt for developers is becoming expensive. Also many banks are right now not keen to lend to real estate projects. Due to global uncertainty even private equity is cautious of investing in India. In fact, companies have started looking at alternative routes of fund raising. And many a deals are being done as structured debt deals hiding behind the facade of an equity structure.

In structured debt deals, the companies—investor and investee—sign two agreements. In the publicly announced agreement the investor—a PE or a VC fund—buys an equity stake in the company; and in the second contract they have buyback clause, which allows investee company to buy back its shares from the PE/VC fund at a price that will give the fund a return of about 20% per annum over the duration of the investment.

All signs currently suggest that 2012 would not be an easy year. As debt becomes more expensive and PE funds find it difficult to deploy cash due to global economic conditions, we would see higher number of structured deals taking place in 2012. Though these structured deals are being done, they have their share of problems. The problem is when the side-contracts are not honoured.

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