Just 3 companies show up for NHAI’s toll-operate-transfer-3 auctions

Economy


NEW DELHI: The highways ministry’s third round of auctions for monetisation of toll roads has received bids from only three players, officials aware of the matter said. The turnout is strikingly low especially after 27 players had evinced interest during the pre-bid meetings.

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had in June this year invited bids for the third bundle of toll-operatetransfer (TOT) auctions, looking to raise a minimum of Rs 4,995 crore. While the names of the companies that have submitted bids due on Monday are not yet known, officials said leading infrastructure players such as Adani, Cube Highways, IRB Infrastructure and Larsen & Toubro could be among the bidders.

TOT was introduced in 2016 to monetise publicly funded highways. Under the model, investors make a one-time lump sum payment in return for long-term toll collection rights. In the third round of TOT auctions, bids were invited for nine national highway stretches of 566 km on Thursday. The projects are spread across Bihar, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

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In August this year, Nagendra Nath Sinha, who was NHAI chairman then, had said at a public event that as many as 27 companies had evinced interest in the TOT-3 bundle. Monday’s bid submission ended after four postponements as investors were seeking more time for evaluation of bids. The price bids will open on Wednesday, and the winning bidder will be given tolling rights for 30 years to all the nine stretches.

NHAI is betting big on the TOT model to help raise resources and attract private funding, which has remained subdued. The first round of TOT auctions fetched the government over Rs 9,000 crore, while TOT-2 was cancelled in February after it drew a lukewarm response from investors. The authority looks to raise around Rs 10,000 crore through two rounds of TOT auctions in the current financial year.



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