DLF aims to make development arm zero net-debt company
After the conclusion of the promoter's stake sale in its rental arm to Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, realty major DLF is looking to make its development arm a zero net-debt company by March 2019, repaying the entire liability of 13,000 crore.
The company has already repaid debt worth 3,000 crore on December 29 from about 9,000 crore received from promoters following their 33.34% stake sale in rental arm DLF Cyber City Developers Ltd (DCCDL). In addition to this, DLF is also looking to raise funds through a Qualified Institutional Placement (QIP) of 17.30 crore equity shares later this year to support the debt reduction plan.
"We have achieved a major milestone by bringing in a strategic partner and with the promoters infusing funds into DLF. The next milestone to achieve is to make the development company a zero net-debt entity by March 2019," DLF's Group Chief Financial Officer, Saurabh Chawla, told ET. "We will be using the funds infused by promoters, money to be raised through the QIP, and revenue generated from ready-to-move-in inventory to achieve this target."
The proposed debt repayment will also be financed through partial monetization of DLF's ready-tomove-in residential inventory worth more than ₹15,000 crore. Marking a major shift in its business strategy, the company has decided to sell only ready-to-move-in apartments from now.
"With zero net debt, we will not be under any pressure to service debt and we would have mitigated other regulatory risks too as we have decided to sell only ready apartments, wherein customers can see what they are buying. We will run our residential business like we run our commercial business," Chawla said.
The company is of the view that the change in business strategy would be more end-user driven, with no uncertainty involved. This will ensure that there is no gap between promise and delivery. "The response obviously would be better to ready apartment offerings in a market marred with so much of uncertainty and unfinished inventory. Our realizations would also be at a premium due to the ready state of apartments. We have access to construction finance from banks and, therefore, don't need to depend on customer advances for construction," Chawla added.
DLF had temporarily stopped its sales in view of the new regulatory changes, including the implementation of Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act, 2016 and the Goods & Services Tax. In November, the developer resumed its sales efforts and has reportedly achieved revenue worth 500 crore over the last two months by selling nearly completed apartments in its luxury projects.
"The market will continue to improve on a month-on-month basis," Chawla said, while refusing to comment on DLF's recent sales and booking numbers.
The company's consolidated net debt stands at 27,000 crore. Of this, 14,000 crore is now part of the rental arm DCCDL, in which GIC has been inducted as a partner, and 13,000 crore is on the books of the development arm.
Of the development arm debt, 9,000 crore will be repaid through funds infused by promoters, while the balance will be repaid over the next 3-4 quarters.
"The average cost of borrowing for our debt in the development arm is 10%, while in the rental company, it is between 8.5% and 9%," Chawla said.
With a stronger and deleveraged balance sheet, the company's rental arm DCCDL may also be eyeing acquisitions in the commercial and retail space. "GIC is one of the most experienced sovereign funds operating in most mature markets across the world. We would like to leverage their learning and experience to build our commercial portfolio in India," Chawla added.
Currently, the rental arm's portfolio includes leased space of 27 million sq ft and nearly 4 million sq ft under construction. The joint entity also has access to land bank that has additional development potential of 19 million sq ft.