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Mumbai big-ticket property market sluggish

Last updated on: January 30, 2012 12:46 IST

Mumbai big-ticket property market sluggish

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Raghavendra Kamath in Mumbai

An estimated Rs 7,800-crore (Rs 78 billion) of big-ticket property deals sought to be put through in this city by companies and government bodies in Mumbai haven't been moving forward.

Sector insiders and analysts say this is due to combination of slowing property markets and liquidity issues.

The companies involved include DLF, Alok Industries, National Textile Corporation (NTC) and Hindustan Unilever (HUL).

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For instance, there is the 17-acre ex-Mumbai Textile Mill land of DLF in the Worli area. The company was planning to appoint an investment banker and an international property consultant to sell the land by mid-January, say sources.

It is yet to happen. DLF had planned to sell the plot after it concluded the sale of Aman Resorts, the luxury hotel chain of the group, by December end, but that has also not been done.

"They are unlikely to announce anything on Mumbai land till they conclude the Aman deal, "said a property consultant.

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Tags: DLF , Worli

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DLF bought this land from state-owned NTC in an auction in 2005 for Rs 702 crore (Rs 7.02 billion).

Another property consultant said there was a rethink about the sale of the land.

"Their intent is not yet clear," he said. When asked, Rajeev Talwar, group executive director of DLF, said: "We are open to all the options, whether to sell it or develop it ourselves. In case of sale, we will wait for the right buyers who can offer us good valuations."

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According to market sources, while the company expects a valuation of Rs 4,000 crore (Rs 40 billion), prospective buyers are offering around Rs 3,000 crore (Rs 30 billion).

"There are not many who can buy such land (at this price)," said the consultant quoted earlier.

Though consultants say the latest development control rules for Mumbai city have taken away the additional FSI (floor space index) benefits for such plots and affected the valuations, Talwar said the company had been granted parking FSI benefits, as it is building a bus parking-cum-terminal.

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NTC, which owns several defunct mills' land here, is also yet to go ahead with earlier plans to sell 55 acres of prime land, expected to earn it Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion).

Although it filed the development plans with the municipal corporation in early 2011, it is yet to get any approval.

In phase-1 of its land auctions in 2005, NTC earned Rs 2,100 crore (Rs 21 billion).

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Last year, its coffers were filled with another Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion) after it sold mill lands to Indiabulls Real Estate.

In an emailed response, NTC chairman K Ramachandran Pillai said: "NTC is in no hurry to sell the land of six mills in Mumbai, particularly, taking into account the present real estate market scenario, which is not showing an encouraging trend. However, the company has started the process of getting the permission from the BMC (the civic body) and the Maharashtra government. The sale process can start only on approval of the layout by BMC, which may be within the next four to six months."

Textile major Alok Industries is in the market to sell 650,000 sq ft of commercial space in Peninsula Business Park at Lower Parel.

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It is yet to announce anything on this property, which it had bought from Peninsula Land for Rs 1,075 crore (Rs 10.75 billion) in 2007.

Though Alok has had talks with big investors such as Morgan Stanley, the Singapore Government-owned GIC and others in the past couple of months, the talks have not materialised, say people in the know.

"The market does not have depth to buy Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) of office space in an empty building," said Amit Goenka, national director, capital transactions, at Knight Frank, a global property consultant.

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Sunil Khandelwal, chief financial officer of Alok Industries, declined to comment on the sale of its properties.

HUL, has put two of its properties on the block, its erstwhile headquarters, HUL House in the Churchgate area of South Mumbai, and its former training centre, Gulita, in Worli. It is also yet to conclude any deal.

HUL started the process of monetising HUL House almost two years earlier but did not sign any deals with prospective tenants or buyers due to valuation issues, consultants say.

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Image: Gulita Training Center at Worli Seaface in Mumbai.


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Early last week, the company came out with advertisements in newspapers on the lease of the property, which gave the lessees in the building the option of buying it after three years.

HUL is also yet to conclude the deal to sell its sea-facing Gulita property in Worli.

Initially, the company had planned to lease it out but after the Supreme Court set aside the BMC's move to charge a 50 per cent premium to transfer ownership, it decided on outright sale.

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"They have long procedures before announcing any deal," said a Mumbai-based developer.

In reply to a questionnaire sent by Business Standard, a HUL spokesperson said: "As a policy, we do not comment on market speculation. We have no comments to offer for your queries."

Experts say slowing property sales and tight liquidity conditions of many developers do have an impact on big-ticket property sales.

"During the NTC or other auctions in the past, there used to be a rush of developers. In current land sales, the number of bidders is far lower and the profile is also different. Only financially sound developers are now participating in the auctions," said Sanjay Dutt, chief executive of property consultant Jones Lang LaSalle.




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