It was around 14 years ago, when IRB Infrastructure started working on the Mumbai-Pune expressway, an early example of TOT (Toll Operate Transfer) concept. There are very few companies who understand this concept entirely. However, for Virendra D Mhaiskar-led IRB Infrastructure, TOT is not a new entity.
The company started the construction in 2004, after it signed a 15-year concession agreement with Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) to develop, operate and maintain the Mumbai-Pune section of NH-4, along with operation and maintenance of the expressway project.
Although the project was actually a PPP (Public-Private-Partnership) model as it involved the construction of one stretch, the constructed part of the asset was similar to the current TOT model in many aspects. The Rs 9.18 billion premium to be paid by IRB to MSRDC was received with skepticism at that time. However, one can clearly see the success of the project today.
The project faced a number challenges like protests from locals and law and order issues. But, everything was handled by IRB Infra by understanding and addressing the issues sensibly until things improved and the toll revenue started to increase.
Since then, the IRB Infrastructure has never looked back. Under Mhaiskar’s leadership, the company has achieved a difficult milestone of constructing 12,000 lane km across the country, after executing the first BOT project in the country.
Recently, the company also forayed into HAM (hybrid annuity model) space, and launched the country’s first infrastructure investment trust, also known as InvIT.
With a portfolio of 17 owned projects and seven projects under O&M contracts as a project manager for IRB InvIT, the company has emerged as a major road developing company in India. Apart from this, it has played a huge part in developing and maintaining some of the important roads and highways in the country, including the prestigious ‘Golden Quadrilateral Project’.
In his journey of more than 25 years in the road development sector, Virendra D Mhaiskar has achieved a lot on the personal level as well. He is recognized as the most sought after person in this sector. He was also chosen as the ‘Young Turk of the Year’ at the 6th Edition of CNBCTV18 India Business Leader Awards. His unwavering efforts have also taken him to the 96th position as India’s Richest (2012), and 937th position among Billionaires (2010), according to the Forbes.
But, even today, the company’s strategy remains the same. During an investor call, when asked about the plan of action for bidding for Toll Operate Transfer (TOT) projects by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), Mhaiskar said, “Our overall strategy is no different for TOT, BOT and HAM road projects. We will bid for the upcoming TOT projects depending upon the viability of the assets. But, we won’t go with an aggressive posturing.”
The company recently revealed that it is in talks with few foreign companies and funds, as it looks to bid for TOT projects that the government is expecting to tender.
IRB Infrastructure MD, Virendra D Mhaiskar said “From a stand point of investing equity in the TOT projects, we certainly have a decent foundation in place. If we also decide to bid with a partner, it will raise our ability to look at more than one package.”
IRB has always been up and ready for the new challenges. The company has always intended to bid for new projects solely on the basis of project viability to bring value to its stake holders and never taken an aggressive approach just to bag a project. The company has entered the new phase of growth with lot more gusto and huge opportunities unfolding in front of them. The road ahead looks bright for IRB with Virendra Mhaiskar leading the way.