GMR mops up Rs 3,215-crore funds for Vizag International Airport

MUMBAI: A consortium of five lenders sanctioned a Rs 3,215 crore term loan to GMR Visakhapatnam International Airport, said people with knowledge of the matter, paving the way for the GMR Group to build its fourth airport in the country.

GMR Airports currently operates the Delhi, Hyderabad and Goa airports in India, and an airport each in the Philippines and Indonesia.

Among the five lenders, REC has sanctioned the highest amount of Rs 1,245 crore, followed by India Infrastructure Finance Company (IIFCL) (Rs 860 crore) and Exim Bank (Rs 455 crore), the people said. The other two members in the consortium are Central Bank of India which sanctioned Rs 364 crore and Bank of Maharashtra that has agreed to lend Rs 291 crore, the people said.

The project cost, estimated to be Rs 4,727 crore, would be funded by Rs 3,215 crore debt of debt, equity and equity-linked instruments of Rs 1,377 crore and an Andhra Pradesh government grant of Rs 135 crore. The loan has an 18-year tenure, including the construction period of the first three years and one year of moratorium. It is priced at a weighted average rate ranging from 10% to 10.5%, one of the people said. The lenders will control the airport development fee through an escrow account that GMR will open with lenders once airport is operational. The GMR Group, IIFCL and REC did not respond to requests for comment. ET could not reach the other lenders.

The financial closure happened within days of global fund GQG Partners acquiring a 4.7% stake in the holding company, GMR Airports, for Rs 1,672 crore.

For government-owned REC, this is its first exposure to the airline sector, the person cited above said. REC, which until recently focused on financing power projects, received a ‘Maharatna’ status last year. Under this status, it can provide loans to non-power infrastructure projects. GMR Airport and the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund own 51% and 49%, respectively, of GMR Visakhapatnam International Airport, as the case is for the Goa airport.

GMR Airports has provided an undertaking to meet cost overruns, equity gap in the project and debt service shortfall, if any, which will be reviewed three years from the commercial operations date, said a statement issued by India Ratings in November.

The existing airport at Visakhapatnam shall remain shut for civilians for 30 years after GMR’s airport at Bhogapuram becomes operational, thus eliminating any risk of traffic leakage.

As per the terms of the agreement, the promoter has infused Rs 410 crore upfront and the balance of the equity would be infused during the three years of construction period.

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