India's Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari, has described the National Highways Authority of India's (NHAI) Masala Bond debut on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) as a sign of India's growing attraction among global investors. The rupee-denominated National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) Masala Bond issued with much fanfare by the Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari, in London recently marks the largest ever five-year issuance and has been described as the "largest inaugural transaction in the Masala Bond market". [caption id="attachment_10894" align="alignleft" width="404"]
Gadkari at NHAI Masala Bond launch at London Stock Exchange[/caption] Gadkari said: “Our government is fully committed to bridge the infrastructure deficit in the country. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Finance Minister [Arun Jaitley] and I are on the same page on this and we firmly believe that consistent high level public investment in transport infrastructure including Highways, Ports, Airports and Railways is going to accelerate the economic growth in the country. “Improvement in the quality of connectivity across the length and breadth of India will help us achieve the vision of our government of 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas'.” Yudhvir Singh Malik, the chairman of NHAI who is part of the ministerial delegation to the UK, said the agency was “fully aligned” with the minister's vision for rapid infrastructure development in India. “National Highways Authority of India is committed to implement the government's vision of delivering high quality highways infrastructure in the shortest possible time. National Highways act as force multipliers in the overall economic growth of the country and NHAI plays a critical role therein,” he said. The LSE Group said the latest Indian issuance had secured global investor backing and will support Indian government plans to accelerate infrastructure investment across India. The 60-month dated bond, with an annual yield of 7.3 per cent issuance from NHAI, the Indian government agency responsible for the management of India's highways network, reinforces the ability of London's global Masala Bond market to support Indian infrastructure financing, the LSE said. Nikhil Rathi, CEO of London Stock Exchange plc, said: “It [NHAI bond] underlines the vital new international channel of funding that is open for Indian issuers in London and the strength of international investor interest in building exposure to India's growth story. “London Stock Exchange, the global home for Masala Bonds, is proud to be the partner of choice for NHAI as it embarks on its journey to accelerate infrastructure investment across India. NHAI's infrastructure programme, the largest in the world , has attracted global investor support through London - testament to the City's status as a global financial centre and a strong partner to India.” London Stock Exchange claims a strong track record of supporting Masala Bond issuance by supranational, municipal and private company institutions on its markets. To date in 2017, there have been five Masala Bond listings in London, raising $135 million equivalent. In total, 39 Masala bonds have listed on London Stock Exchange, raising equivalent to approximately $5.4 billion. HDFC, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), NTPC and Axis Bank are among some of the other leading organisations to list of Masala Bonds on the LSE. During his UK visit, Gadkari also agreed to finalise the bilateral cooperation arrangement between the Transport for London (TfL) and the Indian ministry of road transport and highways to cover a wide range of transport mobility solutions and associated activities in urban environments. Under the proposed agreement, TfL will share with the ministry of road transport and highways its expertise on the mobility and efficiency of transport system and methodologies to facilitate the planning and delivery of mobility solutions, including ticketing, passenger information, major project financing, infrastructure maintenance strategies and behavioural change and public transport promotion. Gadkari's ministry expects to strengthen cooperation on electric buses, bus innovation and capacity augmentation and water transport following a meeting with TfL authorities. At an India Inc. organised UK-India Conclave on the theme of 'A Global Partnership: A new era in UK-India relations' in London, the minister explained: “This is the right time for investors from the UK to invest in India. Our target is for double digit growth and our government is very friendly for investment. “I had meetings with Transport for London (TfL) and we will be signing an MoU to collaborate on sustainable transport projects. I am very inspired by London's double-decker buses and my dream is to have electric double-decker buses on Indian roads.” The senior BJP leader also highlighted that the UK's JCB had hiked construction in India by nearly 70 per cent and called on more foreign companies to invest in India's infrastructure sector. “We have no stalled projects today. The road sector in India is moving very fast. By the end of this year, there will be revolutionary change in India with our focus on electric and cutting pollution. My dream is to transform our transport sector with an integrated approach,” he said.