Tata Housing eyeing new horizons

Last Updated: Sat, Jul 21, 2012 18:40 hrs

At a time when falling demand and an overall slump in the sector are prompting most real estate developers to go slow, Tata Housing is planning to launch eight to 10 projects in the country this financial year. The Tata Sons Limited subsidiary is also chalking up significant plans for Sri Lanka and South-East Asia.

“As part of our long-term strategy, we are looking to establish our domestic presence in the emergent Tier-1 and -II cities,” Tata Housing MD & CEO Brotin Banerjee told Business Standard. “We also plan to expand in international markets.”

Under its affordable housing segment, ‘Smart Value Homes’, Tata Housing has forayed into Gujarat by launching Shubh Griha in Ahmedabad in February end. Now it is eyeing Chennai and Bangalore.

The 1984-founded company, which saw a revival in late 2006, is planning a mixed-use public-private partnership (PPP) project with the government of Sri Lanka’s Urban Development Authority that will be a Rs 1,000-crore investment over 6.7 million sq ft of saleable land.

It will involve relocating shanty dwellers in Colombo’ Slave Island to new housing and developing the vacated area. Tata Housing will invest Rs 500 crore towards building better housing units with recreational facilities for the 587 families in Slave Island. In return, the company will be allowed to develop a mixed-use project on the remaining 6.7 million sq ft of land, which will take six to seven years to complete.

Each two-bedroom unit, as part of rehabilitation, will be developed at a cost of Rs 1 crore.

Banerjee had earlier told this newspaper that real estate would be a big growth story in Sri Lanka, with peace returning to the island nation. Also, “We are actively looking at Southeast Asian countries”, he added, speaking on the group’s other overseas projects.

This will be Tata Housing’s second overseas project after the Maldives’ one, also a PPP launched in 2011. In the same Indian Ocean archipelago, the company is developing one million sq ft, at an estimated cost of Rs 850-900 crore, in a PPP with Maldives. While 80 per cent of the apartments will be handed over to the government, the rest would be sold in the open market by Apex Realty, a special purpose vehicle created for the Maldives real estate projects. Also, the government will provide 150,000 sq ft of commercial space to the company and an exclusive island (Lhossalafushi) on Faadipolhu Atoll to develop premium luxury villas of 20,000 sq ft each.

Going overseas in real estate “is not very conventional”, according to Banerjee, but Tata Housing saw it as a “good opportunity”.

Among other realty players with a global presence, Hiranandani Group had put its launches on halt in Dubai, but plans to start construction of its project Business Bay in the next 12 months. “We had put the plans on hold for ‘Business Bay’,” said Darshan Hiranandani, director & chief executive officer, Hircon International. “But as the Dubai market is slowly recovering again, and prices are going back to the 2007 level, we plan to start construction of the project in the next one year.”

Till then, its strategy will be to complete projects for other developers on a contractual basis in Dubai.

Last month, Sahara group announced its foray into Bangladesh; it will provide affordable housing for low-income groups and offer financial support for majority applicants. It signed a memorandum of understanding with the ministry of housing and public works of the government in Dhaka.

Others, like Raheja Developers, who were evaluating opportunities to venture into Mauritius and Colombo, have shelved plans, given the global economic and realty gloom.

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