Real Estate Developers Smell Gold in Infrastructure Segment

By: George Gonigal

As the primary phase of market consolidation continues, the real estate developers of India, who have come a long way in the sector, are now eyeing opportunities in the infrastructure sector.

And why not? As per recent reports of Assocham, physical infrastructure and services accounted for 81 per cent of the total investments of Rs 4.19 lakh crore pumped in the economy in the first three quarters of the current fiscal year 2007-08.

Also, infrastructure has been identified as the single largest sector that is attracting maximum foreign direct investments (FDI) in India. Industries of shipbuilding, ports and airport development are the ones that are attracting whopping investments. Perhaps, this is why real estate developers like DLF, Emaar MGF and Omaxe are expressing interest in development projects, including expansion and modernisation of airports and railway stations.

Omaxe Group recently bid for modernizing Udaipur airport, in response to the Civil Aviation Ministry's request for proposal (RFP) for Rs 200-crore Public Private Partnership (PPP) project. Earlier, country's largest real estate developer DLF, second largest Unitech Group and Emaar MGF had bid for Rs 4,000 crore commercial development project of Delhi International Airport, spread in 250 acre.

The segment of public transportation is presenting such unprecedented opportunities that not only real estate companies but others find hard to resist. Take the recent New Delhi railway station tender. It is perhaps first-of-its-kind tender for modernization of a railway station through PPP model.

And it is no surprise that not just specialized infrastructure groups like GMR, GVK and L&T are in the race but it is Reliance that has unleashed its ambition to foray into the segment. To carry on with such critical projects, the company has forged an alliance with Socit Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais (SNCF) that has an enviable record of managing 30,000 km railway track in France.

Meanwhile, these movements are not only exciting for market players but also suggest that the travel woes of aam admi are soon going to convert into a pleasant experience.

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