India Grid Trust, an infrastructure investment trust backed by private equity fund KKR & Co. and Singapore’s GIC Pte, is looking to add as much as 60 billion rupees ($786 million) of solar power projects to its portfolio and expects some financially stressed assets to become available in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The move is part of the firm’s plan to more than double its portfolio to 300 billion rupees over the next two years, with solar accounting for as much as one-fifth, Chief Executive Officer Harsh Shah said in a telephone interview.
“We see that there will be consolidation in the solar industry,” Shah said. “It’s a good time for both sellers and buyers to complete the transactions.”
IndiGrid, as the company is known, is seeking solar assets with government-backed counterparties, such as NTPC Ltd. and Solar Energy Corp. of India Ltd., bearing the payment risk, Shah said.
The nationwide lockdown to contain Covid-19 has slashed the country’s electricity demand by about a quarter, further damaging the already weak financial health of state distribution utilities. This has favored some renewable projects that sell power at low prices than thermal generators, as the state utilities go for the cheapest sources. The projects also enjoy favorable policies as the government seeks to tackle air pollution and carbon emissions.
IndiGrid currently owns a portfolio of power transmission projects worth 121 billion rupees and has acquisitions of further transmission assets in sight to take it to 190 billion rupees in the next two years, according to Shah.
The company was established by Sterlite Power Grid Ventures Ltd. and is one of the earliest among a band of infrastructure investment trusts in India, known as InvITs.