Interviews

S Bajrang Kumar Choudhary /
MD, Bharat Road Network

We consciously decided to be selective in our project evaluation

September 2019
Bharat Road Network Ltd (BRNL) is a road BOT company in India focused on development, implementation, operation and maintenance of roads/highways projects. Incorporated in 2006 as a developer and operator for highways, road and related projects on a BOT basis, the company has a project portfolio worth Rs 68 billion consisting of six BOT projects, of which five are operational and one is under construction and expected to be operational this year. It currently manages over 2,000 km of national and state highways spread across Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha. BRNL is a professionally managed company guided by an independent board with eminent personalities with rich domain knowledge and experience. Bajrang Kumar Choudhary, Managing Director, shares more….

Name one major challenge faced in FY2018-19. How did the company tackle it?
One of the biggest challenges faced by infrastructure players today is an inordinate delay in settlement of arbitration awards and long-drawn litigations. We are no exception and have been hitting this hurdle quite often. We have about Rs 500 crore of arbitration award money in our projects currently stuck in myriad procedural delays and policy barriers. Last year, we made a concerted effort towards claim realisation and created a cross-functional team to pursue such matters vigorously. Now, we are happy to see positive results as we have been successful in winning one arbitration matter related to our Odisha project, in possibly record time. 

Nameone decision you consider the biggest contributor to the company’s growth in FY2018-19.
Considering that the environment was not too conducive for portfolio expansion, we decided to emphasise on enhancing operational excellence and creating value in existing assets through a focused strategy. This included exemption control and an integrated approach towards fully automated tolling operation and maintenance. 

What isone single factor you avoided that could have otherwise impacted the company’s topline and bottomline?
We remained cautiously optimistic towards portfolio expansion owing to the current liquidity stress in the market triggered by the lenders’ inability to enhance their exposure in the sector. We consciously decided to be selective in our project evaluation and remained focused on operational excellence and claim realisation.

What are your plans for the company’s growth in FY2019-20? 
We hope to see some buoyancy in the market in the long run and expect rational bidding that assures healthy returns. While we remain committed to realising value for existing portfolios, we will remain selective in portfolio expansion through primary and secondary market opportunities until we find the liquidity condition has improved significantly and the expected return on projects wouldmatch our defined parameters. However, we would like to assure investors that our continuous focus on value accretion through portfolio churning is expected to yield healthy returns. 

Bharat Road Network Net Sales EBITDA Reported PAT
FY19 (Rs Billion) 4.01 2.23 -0.44
Growth over FY18 (%) 162.02 57.70 -288.09