(Adds deal value, adviser quote)
NEW DELHI, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management made its first significant investment in Indian infrastructure, buying six road and three power projects on Friday from India’s Gammon Infrastructure Projects Limited .
A consortium composed of Brookfield and the Core Infrastructure India Fund Pte Ltd are buying the projects, six of which are operational, said Ambit Holdings, which advised Gammon on the deal.
Indian infrastructure firms have spent the last two years trying to sell assets to pay down debts after an economic downturn squeezed cash flows and damaged their balance sheets, although interest from foreign investors has remained muted.
“This transaction represents Brookfield’s first major investment in Indian infrastructure, and provides us a great platform to participate in the Indian growth story over the long term,” Anuj Ranjan, Managing Partner at Brookfield, said in a statement.
The deal includes an immediate cash payment of 5.63 billion rupees ($85 million) and future undisclosed sums based on certain performance targets being met, Rahul Mody, managing director at Ambit Corporate Finance, told Reuters.
Recent government reforms, including a rule allowing developers to exit road projects two years after completion, have encouraged foreign investors to begin looking at investing in Indian infrastructure again, Mody said.
“There is a steady increase in interest. But it needs to be tapped properly and it will take time,” he said.
Brookfield is a global asset manager with more than $200 billion in assets under management. Core Infrastructure India Fund is a private equity group run by India’s Kotak Mahindra.
The sale will allow Gammon, a medium-sized Indian infrastructure firm majority owned by parent Gammon India Ltd , to cut its consolidated debt to 22.29 billion rupees from 39.47 billion rupees. ($1 = 66.1400 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Michael Perry and Keith Weir)