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Clients increasingly want to engage us right from bidding stage itself and be their one stop financial solution provider throughout project cycle

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Below are the excerpts of our recent interview with Mr. Sandeep Upadhyay, Managing Director & CEO, Investment Banking Centrum Infrastructure advisory Limited

So let’s begin with the glimpse of your company’s presence and offerings in India.

Centrum is a diversified player in financial services primarily into Investment Banking, Wealth Management and Forex business. Within investment banking we have carved out the infrastructure practice as a dedicated team called Centrum Infrastructure Advisory Services Limited (CIAL) which is into deal making and advisory services. CIAL advises clients across investment banking and corporate finance products including joint ventures, pre bid advisory, mergers and acquisition primarily relating to the infrastructure sector in which renewables sector stands out as a part of our industry coverage.

What have been some of the recent developments at your organisation?

We are on course to build sector focused capabilities working agnostically across all the investment banking products. I comprehend financing as a huge challenge and hence an opportunity for an advisory firm like us. From the point of view of action, I see momentum really picking up in terms of refinancing projects, M&A in stressed assets and equity raising for viable projects.

I think renewables, the sector on which we are having conference today is witnessing increasing appetite from the growth capital investors. Accordingly, we are trying to align our team capabilities with respect to some of these products.

What are your views on the financing related to the renewable energy sector?

Well, as I said it is both a challenge and an opportunity. During the conference today we have already discussed the huge opportunity which needs to be explored. In sectors like solar itself which is one of the priority areas for the current government, we are aspiring to add approximately 90 GW in next 5 years or so which is a huge target. Financing will continue to remain a challenge because as of now we have limited corpus of funds which are avail- able. However going forward I see the  long term investors including multilateral funding agencies and specialized financial institutions playing an increasingly important role.

How do you see banks funding the renewable projects?

Banks traditionally have been one of the biggest source of funding the infrastructure sector specifically in the renewables sector. However going forward I think given where the bank stands with their alarming NPA position we need to seriously evaluate alternate means of bank financing which could be in the form of adding more financial institutions like IREDA or it could come from   new   products   like   the infrastructure debt funds (IDF) or the infrastructure Investment trust (InvIT)

What have been the latest trends and demands for your services in India? Where do you see the next demand coming from?

The requirement of advisory services has been gradually building up. I think now what we are looking at is graduating from advising on traditional project finance, equity raising assignments to the next level where the clients want us to get engaged right at the time of biding itself and be their one stop financial solution provider throughout the life cycle of the project.

Anything else you like to add for our readers.

I think renewable energy continues to be one of the few sectors within infrastructure today which has a huge appetite in terms of attracting growth capital. I am hopeful that a combination of efficient financing structure, conducive policies& framework and rational bidding based on prudent viability assessment are some of the initiatives basis which I guess we could get close to the aspirational capacity addition targets set by the Government.

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