Interviews

Apart from roads, we have identified the water sector as one of the great opportunities

August 2019
                     CW Top Challengers 2018-19


Part of the Welspun Group, Welspun Enterprises (WEL) was formed in its current form in 2015. WEL is unique as it focuses primarily on road HAM projects. WEL has seven road HAM projects in its portfolio with a total project value of Rs 85+ billion. The unexecuted order book at the end of FY19 stands at Rs 52+ billion.WEL is the first company to complete a HAM project – Delhi-Meerut Expressway (Package 1)– 11 months ahead of schedule, which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister in May 2018.Backed by a strong balance sheet with significant unleveraged cash balance, WEL is among the few infrastructure developers with long-term AA credit rating. Sandeep Garg, Managing Director & CEO, Welspun Enterprises, shares more….

Name one major challenge faced in FY2018-19. How did the company approach the same?
The past year-and-a-half has been particularly challenging for infrastructure developers. While the banking sector was passing through a challenging time owing to NPAs and regulatory changes, the situation was aggravated because of the crisis in the NBFC sector led by IL&FS, and further expanded to a few other private-sector housing finance companies. As a result, there was severe credit aversion in the financial sector during this period. A lot of developers faced difficulties in achieving financial closure for their HAM projects. Our strategy of ‘one step at a time’ meant that we were typically undertaking financial closure for one project at a time. As a result of this, coupled with our strong balance sheet, WEL was able to successfully arrange timely funding for all its projects.

What is one decision you consider the biggest contributor to the company’s growth in FY2018-19?
There was a temporary slowdown in the bidding pipeline of NHAI in Q2-Q3 of last year. During this time, WEL diversified its client base by bidding selectively for HAM projects at the state level. We secured the Amravati (AM-2) project of PWD Maharashtra at a bid project cost of Rs 14.60 billion during this time. We will continue to selectively bid for HAM projects of a variety of clients.

Name one single factor you avoided that could otherwise have impacted the company’s topline and bottomline.
WEL is a strongly process-driven company and there is a clear expectation at all levels to deliver value to our stakeholders. We bid selectively for projects, and always bid at our internally mandated threshold IRR. Hence, we do not compromise on our return expectations, even if it means not winning a project. We believe this creates maximum stakeholder value.

Going forward, what are your plans for the company’s growth in FY2019-20?
We will continue to proceed on our chosen focused path. In the roads sector, we will continue with our approach of execution excellence with an asset-light execution model for HAM projects. Project returns, rather than order booking, will be our mantra. On the execution front, we expect two of our HAM projects to achieve PCOD in FY2019-20, ahead of the contractual schedule.

Apart from roads, we have identified the water sector as one of the great opportunities. We continue to develop our capabilities in the sector, and will be bidding for HAM projects, focusing on bulk water transport, treatment and desalination. We will also look at opportunistic EPC play in this sector.

Read on the CW Top Challengers selection criteria and methodology at https://www.constructionworld.in/articles/beststories/CW-identifies-the-Top-Challengers-of-FY2019/21687