HDFC pitches for one-time loan recast for realty projects

Mumbai: Ahead of the presentation of the Union Budget 2020-21, largest pure play home financier HDFC on Tuesday pitched for a one-time loan recast for realty projects.

Its Chairman Deepak Parekh said lenders are not able to write new loans for projects because a new borrowing by an entity which is already a non performing asset, becomes an NPA on day one.

The comments come amid difficult times faced by the realty sector, which has forced the government to announce a 25,000 crore fund to push stuck projects.

It can be noted that the RBI has discontinued the practice of loan recast for the last few years, but has created an exception for small businesses after Governor Shaktikanta Das took over.

“We have requested the NHB (National Housing Bank, sector regulator) and others to take a relook at the provisioning and the NPA issue on projects that are stuck and need the last mile funding,” Parekh told reporters.

“We are talking to the regulators, we have spoken to the finance ministry, one time restructuring is absolutely necessary,” he added.

Parekh said there have been precedents of similar one-time reliefs being allowed by the RBI in the past including in 1993 and also after the global financial crisis.

He said there are a host of reasons beyond financial stress of the promoter alone which lead to NPAs in the case of realty projects, including lack of environmental, tree authority or NGT approvals, which stop a project from taking off.

When asked if he has heard from either the regulator or the finance ministry, Parekh replied in the negative.

He welcomed the 25,000 crore as a good beginning and added that the fund has already approved four proposals but did not share any details of the same.

HDFC has invested 250 crore in the first 12,500 crore fund anchored by SBI Caps and have a representative on the managing board, he said.

Parekh said the remainder fund of 12,500 crore may be anchored by NIIF or some other fund.

Meanwhile, when asked when he sees a revival in the realty market, Parekh asked investors to “forget” about their bets for the next five years on the residential side, hinting that a recovery is unlikely soon.

Parekh said while it is a good time to buy houses for staying, residential property investments may at best yield one or two per cent return if rented out and also said it is better not to rent those out.

He, however, said the commercial market is booming.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget 2020-21 on February 1.

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