More bidders,high cost to trim return on BOT projects: Crisil

Aggressive bidding and higher premium being quoted by developers for new toll road projects on BOT basis are expected to bring down the average return to 14 per cent,a Crisil survey said.

Written by Agencies | Mumbai | Published:May 28, 2012 9:39 pm

Aggressive bidding and higher premium being quoted by developers for new toll road projects on BOT basis are expected to bring down the average return to 14 per cent,a Crisil survey said.

“Aggressive bidding and sharp increase in developers’ costs,due to the high premium amounts,is likely to take a toll on future BOT (Build,Operate,Transfer) road projects.

It is expected to bring down the average equity return of the newer BOT projects to about 14 per cent,” the agency said in the report.

The projects awarded before 2009 had earned an average equity return of 22 per cent for the developers,the survey has noted.

With aggressive bidding driving up project costs,the newer projects will earn lower returns. In most of the bids for newer projects,developers have been offering higher premium (a committed annual payment to the government over the term of the project),the report noted.

According to the study,in case of 23 BOT toll road projects which were awarded before 2009,fewer bids had kept bid amounts modest while higher than expected growth in traffic boosted toll revenues.

Noting that in FY12,almost 65 per cent of the road projects were awarded on premium basis,compared to 25 per cent in FY09,the survey says,”the premium amounts even exceeded the project costs in some of the projects for which bidding was particularly aggressive.

“We expect the higher premium to bring down the average equity returns to about 14 percent,” Crisil Research senior director Prasad Koparkar said.

The survey also noted that the degree of competition was modest for projects awarded before 2009 with an average of five developers bidding for each project,given the uncertainties in the policies that governed these projects.

Uncertainty about transfer of land to developers by the government as well as absence of an exit option,which meant developers could not sell their equity stake in these projects,kept bid amounts modest and project costs moderate,Crisil said.

However,with government speeding up land acquisition process,providing an exit option in the licensing agreement as also awarding lucrative highway stretches under the National Highway Development Programme,the bidding became aggressive for new projects and the average number of bidders per project increased almost sixfold to 25-30 from that of 2009,it said.

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