India’s sovereign infra fund eyes debut deals

The $6bn vehicle appointed IFC's global co-head of infrastructure and natural resources as its chief executive last month.

India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) has identified the first eight projects it plans to invest in, according to the vehicle’s interim investment advisor. 

The projects include the Konkan Railways project, a national power transmission project and a few road projects, deputy managing director of India Infrastructure Finance Company Sanjeev Kaushik told local press sources. 

IIFC, appointed as the interim investment adviser to NIIF in December, has recommended a total of eight projects for the fund to invest in. Of these, a council led by the country's Finance Minister in its meeting last month, approved investment in the existing Konkan Railway, Kaushik said. 

The operating project, managed by Konkan Railway Corporation, is a 741km link between Mumbai and Mangalore, two important port cities. 

Set up last December, the INR400 billion ($5.96 billion; €5.35 billion) NIIF aims to act as a sovereign investment vehicle to fund commercially viable greenfield, brownfield and stalled projects in the country. 

The Indian government, seeding the fund with INR200 billion, has been working hard on convincing international institutional investors to support the initiative and fill the remaining funding gap. It has so far secured support from other sovereign wealth funds including Russia’s Rusnano, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Qatar Investment Authority, but there hasn’t been any formal announcement on financial commitments. 

“There is a lot of interest from investors globally, who had been waiting all this while for the chief executive’s appointment, to see the team and the exact structure,” commented Kaushik. 

The fund appointed Sujoy Bose, currently global co-head of infrastructure and natural resources at the International Finance Corporation as its chief executive last month. Bose is expected to help raise fund from international and domestic investors.

In addition to foreign support, Life Insurance Corporation, the country’s largest insurer, has recently expressed interest in investing in NIIF, according to reports quoting the chairman SK Roy.