HCC Group's infra arm to get Rs 1,259 cr from NHAI

This comes after the closure of outstanding disputes and claims concerning Baharampore-Farakka Highways Ltd and Farakka-Raiganj Highways Ltd
Last Updated 31 March 2021, 09:32 IST

HCC Group on Wednesday said its infrastructure arm HCON is set to receive Rs 1,259 crore from National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) following closure of outstanding disputes and claims concerning Baharampore-Farakka Highways Ltd (BFHL) and Farakka-Raiganj Highways Ltd (FRHL),

HCC Concessions Ltd (HCON), the infrastructure development arm of HCC Group, has concluded its conciliation with NHAI for all disputes concerning BFHL and FRHL, HCC said in a statement.

Two of the HCC's special purpose vehicles — BFHL and FRHL entered into pacts with NHAI for a comprehensive closure of all outstanding disputes and claims between the parties. BFHL will receive Rs 405 crore, while FRHL will receive Rs 854 crore from the NHAI.

FRHL will release the settlement proceeds and further sums to HCC Group as per the existing contractual understanding with FRHL’s buyer, Cube Highways & Infrastructure II Pte Ltd (Cube), the statement said.

Besides, part use of funds for NHAI project completion and an exit to the Xander Group, which hold a 14.55 per cent share in HCON, a substantial portion of funds will be received by HCC as a settlement of their cost claim, it added.

"... Cube will release Rs 233 crore withheld as part of HCON's sale of FRHL and also require to share a significant portion of FRHL's growing revenue for the remainder of the concession's 20 years.

"With 100 per cent construction completion being achieved at FRHL, toll rates will increase 70 per cent in FY22. Additionally, up to Rs 100 crore is further payable by Cube in 2023, contingent on traffic projections being realised," the statement said.

Further, BFHL's closure of disputes with NHAI facilitates the required liquidity to accelerate completion of a much-delayed Bypass, which along with the SPV's strong free cash flow from toll operations, frees HCON to monetise this Rs 2,000-crore mega project earlier than planned, the statement said.

Despite the impact of Covid-19 and partial tolling, BFHL clocked revenues of Rs 168 crore in FY21, a 16 per cent jump over FY20. On final completion, a toll increase of 67 per cent will further generate material free cash flow, it added.

Arjun Dhawan, HCC Group’s CEO, said, "the proceeds of conciliation shall be used to expedite completion of our key projects and to strengthen HCC’s participation in future works of nation-building."

BFHL and FRHL are among the largest Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects in the country. They encompass 200 Km of Bengal's main artery, NH-34, and pass through major towns such as Baharampore, Farakka, Kaliachawk, Malda, and Gajol, besides being the only link over the river Ganges in the region.

NH-34 provides north-south connectivity between the capital region and the ports of Kolkata and Haldia to the north-eastern states of India.

The west side of the highway borders Bihar and Jharkhand and the eastern side runs parallel to the Bangladesh border, where considerable import and export of goods occur.

Both BFHL and FRHL faced significant delays mainly related to land acquisition, commencing toll operations on May 14, 2014, and October 19, 2016, respectively, HCC said.

The concession periods are 25 years for BFHL and 30 years for FRHL.

The full completion of this all-important corridor shall reduce the travel time from Kolkata to North Bengal by half.

FRHL was sold to Cube Highways & Infrastructure II Pte Ltd (Cube) on September 22, 2020, at an enterprise value of Rs 1,508 crore.

(Published 31 March 2021, 09:32 IST)

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