Why Indian energy companies have the upper hand in renewables boom

For international investors seeking a piece of India’s renewables boom — and the bankers who sit across the table with them — all roads go through the country’s domestic energy players.

That’s the message from Bank of America Corp.’s Gaurav Singhal, who leads the busiest team in India’s green energy M&A sector in the past 12 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The biggest of the deals saw the U.S. bank advising SoftBank Group Corp. on selling its renewables business in India to Adani Green Energy Ltd. at an enterprise value of $3.5 billion earlier this year.

The green energy arm of local tycoon Gautam Adani’s empire announced the deal in May, following reports that negotiations with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board had fallen apart.

Adani’s group was a late entrant in the SB Energy deal, though they were aware of it, Singhal said. “The group had many advantages, from being a local player to the fact that some of the SB Energy assets were next door to their own plants.”

The deal helped make India the most active market in the world for renewables M&A in the first six months of 2021 according to BloombergNEF, and Adani and his fellow billionaire, Mukesh Ambani, have unveiled ambitious plans in the sector.

Foreign buyers will undoubtedly continue to compete for assets; Singhal expects more than $150 billion in equity investment into the sector by 2030. Yet most strategic investors from overseas are seeking to back local entrepreneurs, he said.

“Some of the issues of dealing with the federal government can be handled by only the local partners,” he said. “Foreign investors cannot take that call solo.”

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