Improved liquidity and decreased costs expected out of RBI’s decision to permit FPIs in REITs and InvITs

The move will aid REITs and InvITs in raising debt from foreign investors at competitive rates and expand participation of institutional investors.

October 29, 2021

Union Budget 2019 allowed FPIs to make such investments, although they were yet to be enabled.

Movement will also help improve business trust unit holders’ risk-adjusted returns due to leveraging.

Since REITs are usually rated well in comparison to other individual assets, the real estate sector also has an advantage.

REIT level lenders can now reap the benefits of cross collateralization of multiple asset securities and security over receivables.

Much-needed patient capital and liquidity to the new asset class is expected to be an outcome of the RBI’s decision to permit foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) to invest in debt securities issued by real estate investment trusts (REITs) and infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs). Earlier, in the union budget 2019, although FPIs were allowed to make such investments, they were yet to be enabled. Presently, the Foreign Exchange Management (Debt Instrument) Regulations, 2021 has been amended towards the same. In order to provide for  the issuance of the debt securities listed, the regulations governing REITs and InvITs were amended by capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board  of India, with effect from December 2017. The lack of enabling provisions, due to which these business trusts could not source debt funding from FPIs will change, with the change in the regulations.

Apart from aiding REITs and InvITs in raising debt from foreign investors at competitive rates and expanding the participation by institutional investors, the FPI route will also contribute to improving business trust unit holders’ risk-adjusted returns due to leveraging. Through a US$ 612.8 million debt issuance at almost 6.5% cost of financing, Embassy REIT widened its investor base, earlier this week. The real estate sector, which banks have hitherto been hesitant to lend to owing to the associated risks also have an advantage with the recent development, given that REITs are usually rated well in comparison to other individual assets.

REIT level lenders can now reap the benefits of cross collateralization of multiple asset securities and security over receivables, as additional comfort. By bringing the regulations equal to global standards, the GOI and Sebi have been attempting to make REITs and InvITs successful in India, for the last few years. Additionally, the regulations have also helped decrease the size of trading lots to improve liquidity and create provisions for helping REITs raise more capital, aiding growth.