India JV makes second toll investment

Uniquest has bought a majority stake in a domestic Indian tollway company for an undisclosed amount.

Gurgaon-based Uniquest Infra Ventures has completed its second investment with the purchase of a majority stake in SEW Navayuga Barwani Tollways Private, which operates a section of one of India’s longest national highways, according to a statement.

The size of the deal was not disclosed, but SEW Tollways operates the 83-kilometre Khalghat – MP/Maharashtra Border section of National Highway 3 – a section that reportedly had a project value of INR8 billion (€93 million; $127 million). SEW Tollways is operating it under an 18-year concession from the National Highways Authority of India, and the section began commercial operations in 2011.

The seller was a joint venture (JV) between SEW Infrastructure and Navayuga Engineering Company. The JV had a 67 percent stake in SEW Tollways, and, according to local media reports, decided to divest its stake in December to boost liquidity.

Uniquest chief executive Zakaria Ahmad Zabidi told Infrastructure Investor that after two years of evaluating potential deals, the firm decided on SEW Tollways “because of [its] excellent asset quality and strong growth potential”. Uniquest will focus primarily on bringing best operational practices and finance to the company.

Uniquest is a JV between PLUS Expressways International Berhad (PEIB), the international expressway arm of Malaysian government subsidiary UEM Group Berhad, and Indian fund manager IDFC. Uniquest’s mandate is to invest PLUS and IDFC’s long-term capital in Indian infrastructure projects.

In 2012, Uniquest acquired an equity stake in Jetpur Somnath Tollways Private which is implementing a 124km build-operate-transfer project on NH-8D connecting Jetpur and Somnath in Gujarat. Since then, the firm has been involved in the bidding process for a number of tollways and road construction projects.