Anand Rathi and Knight Frank Eye the Second Realty Fund

Anand Rathi Financial Services and property consultancy Knight Frank India are planning to launch their second real estate fund by end of this months and looking to raise around Rs 500 crore (~$100 million), sources close to the development told VCCircle. Unlike its peers who are hitting foreign shores to raise new funds, the joint fund rental yield and appreciation portfolio (RYAP) fund will be raised from the domestic market.  Like its predecessor, it will invest in commercial assets in tier I cities which include Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, National Capital Region (NCR) and Chennai.

The fund would be targeting returns of 10-12 per cent from its investments and expects to stay invested in an asset for four-five years. A senior executive of the joint venture fund house who did not wish to be identified, said, “We are waiting for final Alternate Investment Fund (AIF) guidelines as right now there is no clarity on registration of funds and other norms. Once we have clarity on the same which we are expecting by mid-May we will register and start our fund raising process.”

In April 2, markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) had unveiled its final norms to regulate AIF’s in the country. Fund managers expect the detailed guidelines to be issued in the next two weeks.

Knight Frank India and Anand Rathi Financial Services had joined hands two years ago to raise Rs 225 crore rental yield fund. It has invested Rs 135 crore from the existing fund in two projects including Hub town Ltd’s commercial project in Mumbai and Cerebrum IT park development by Pune-based Kumar Urban Development Ltd.

Bengal Urban Land Policy: Seeks 30% Reservation for Low-Cost Housing

The promise of Ma, Mati, and Manush governance by Mamata Banerjee may fall short of the second M-word, meaning land — at least for real estate developers in the state’s capital city. For, the West Bengal government has now decided to bring in an amendment to the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act (ULCA), 1976, an eyesore of developers for quite some time. The proposed alteration will stipulate the developers to reserve 30 per cent apartments in big housing projects for the low-income group (LIG). Industrialists have been seeking a total repeal of the Act, introduced in 1976 to prevent hoarding or excessive holding of land in urban centres.

According to the Act, the ceiling limit on vacant land in a category ‘A’ city like Kolkata is 7.5 cottah or about 500 square meters. The demand for repealing the ULCA was raised for the first time by Godrej Properties chairman Adi Godrej, at an industry meet within the first month of Banerjee taking over the chief minister’s office.

Much to the disappointment of the developers, urban development minister Firhad Hakim has now totally ruled out the possibility of repealing the Act. “We are not going to abolish the Land Ceiling Act,” he said. “Instead, we will give permission to developers for purchase of land beyond ceiling, provided they reserve 30 per cent housing for low-income housing segment.”

As for the Trinamool dispensation, it has also decided to do away with the concept of public-private partnership (PPP) — an idea pioneered by the earlier Left Front government under Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Instead, “the government will allocate land to the highest bidder and for the rest of the big projects the state will build on its own,” according to Hakim. Notably, in spite of the Land Ceiling Act, the earlier government had windfall gains by allotting land in prime areas of city.

For example, three prominent government agencies involved in land deals in and around Kolkata — the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA), Kolkata Municipal Corporation and West Bengal Housing Board— signed deals worth more than Rs 18,000 crore, for over 5,250 acres of land during the period in little over two years. In fact, KMDA was credited with signing deals, worth more thanRs 800 crore with real estate developers on a single day. “The process of land allotment slowed substantially over the last two years. First, it was due to elections,” said a city-based real estate developer. “Second, it was due to lack of vision and policy of the new government.”

Realty projects, roads focus to help build-up for Unity Infraprojects

Healthy order book, strong balance sheet and the potential to unlock value from real estate projects make Unity Infraprojects a decent investment idea on a medium-term basis. Mumbai-based Unity Infraprojects is a small-sized construction firm operating in buildings, water and roads segments. The company is also developing real estate on its land parcels in Nagpur, Bangalore, Pune, Kolkata and Goa. The total saleable area from these projects is nearly nine million square feet.

Unity Infraprojects stands to gain by unlocking the value in its real estate projects. It was not able to monetise any of its real estate projects due to delays in execution by over a year. However, it is now in an advanced stage of securing approvals for launching its Bangalore residential project. Unity has a total saleable area of nearly 3 million square feet in this project, which it intends to launch in another three months.

After this it will focus on monetising its real estate in other cities. The current order book of the company in its construction business stands at Rs 4,700 crore, which are 2.75 times its FY11 revenues. These orders are to be executed over the next three years. The company has been increasing its exposure to the roads segment in the last few years. Although the roads segment is highly competitive, Unity’s backward integration in terms of owns machinery has allowed the company to garner better operating margins than its peers.

In the nine months ending December 2011, the company has maintained an operating margin of 15.5%. Another factor that augurs well for the company is its strong balance sheet. As of September 2011, the company had a debt-equity ratio of 1.1, which is one of the best among its peers. Unity Infraprojects’ stock is trading at a P/E of 3.9 while similar-sized rivals like Pratibha Industries and Supreme Infrastructure India are trading at a P/E of 5.9 and 5.2, respectively. Considering its growth potential and the relative discount to its peers, the stock looks attractive at this level.


Real Estate Prices To Increase

Sansad Bhavan
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It is very likely that the Real Estate prices in the country will shoot up further with the Finance Ministry’s decision of not withdrawing 2.5% service tax. This move was proposed by the Urban Development Ministry in the budget of FY10-11.

The budget had earlier proposed this tax on all under-construction projects. And it is common knowledge that eventually the customers will have to bear the burden and not the developers.

The declination came as no less than a shock to the Urban Development Ministry. Its Minister Mr. S Jaipal Reddy argued with the Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee in the favor of the move in April this year but it could yield no results evidently.

The ultimate sufferers will be the Indian middle class who already has to bear the burden of inflation in almost all other spheres but also dreams of owing a home of their own!