Essel said in talks to sell toll roads to India sovereign fund

Indian tycoon Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group is in advanced talks to sell some toll road projects to an arm of the country’s sovereign wealth fund for about $350 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

The assets that National Investment & Infrastructure Fund is planning to buy are four toll roads that are in operations and two in construction, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. The parties expect to reach an agreement as soon as September, the people said.

Deliberations are ongoing and may not result in a deal, the people said. Essel Group confirmed that the sale plan has reached a “very advanced stage” without revealing the buyer, its representative said in response to a Bloomberg query. NIIF doesn’t comment on market speculation, its spokeswoman said.

Canada’s Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec dropped its plans to buy three road projects from Essel, Mint reported in July, citing unidentified people.

Chandra and his Essel Group have been selling assets to pare debt of about 110 billion rupees ($1.6 billion). Last week, the tycoon sold 11% stake in his flaghip Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, India’s largest publicly-traded television network, to Invesco Oppenheimer Developing Markets Fund for 42 billion rupees. That would still leave Essel short of 68 billion rupees as it races to meet its goal of repaying all lenders by September.

NIIF, which manages more than $3 billion of assets, counts Temasek Holdings Pte, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan among its investors, according to its website.

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