COVID-19: Private equity inflow in realty sector falls 93% to $238 mn in Jan-May

The decline in PE investments in real estate had begun in 2019 when it fell by 23 percent year-on-year to USD 6.8 billion

The sharp drop in the PE investment activity is attributed to the economic slowdown and the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted investor sentiments. Representational image: iStock

Private equity investments in the Indian real estate sector during the first five months of this year plunged by a massive 93 percent to USD 238 million due to the economic slowdown and COVID-19 crisis, according to property consultant Knight Frank India.

Private equity (PE) investments in the real estate sector stood at USD 3.38 billion during the year-ago period.

“The private equity investment activity dropped to USD 238 million, with only 5 deals getting concluded in 2020 (YTD till May 31), a 93 percent drop in year-on-year comparison,” Knight Frank said in its report titled ‘Investments in Real Estate’.

The consultant attributed the sharp drop in the PE investment activity to an economic slowdown and the COVID-19 pandemic that affected investor sentiments.

According to the data, the PE investments in office spaces fell to USD 141 million during January-May 2020, from USD 1,009 million in the corresponding period last year. The retail segment did not attract any investment this year, compared to the USD 397 million during the same period last year.

The warehousing segment got PE investments worth USD 57 million, as against USD 1.5 million a year ago, while the housing sector received a PE inflow of USD 40 million, as against USD 469 million.

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A sharp slowdown in the domestic economy and specifically, the real estate sector will keep investors cautious, the consultant said. “Moreover, challenges such as the recall of capital by Sovereign Wealth Funds and Pension funds to give bailout in their home countries, and the emergence of attractive opportunities in developed economies on account of a drop in valuations due to recession would cast its shadow on the PE investments in Indian real estate in 2020,” it added.

In terms of the number of deals, the year 2020 has seen an 80 percent drop in the first five months, as compared to the same period last year. “The decline in PE investments in real estate had started as visible in 2019 when it fell by 23 percent year-on-year to USD 6.8 billion.

“We are operating in uncertain times. Having enforced one of the most stringent lockdown measures globally, 2020 would be a challenging year for Indian businesses,” said Shishir Baijal, Chairman & Managing Director, Knight Frank India.

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Baijal further said, “The warehousing segments would be the fastest to recover, followed by office. With pay cuts and job losses becoming pervasive, the residential and retail segments would have to chart an arduous journey towards recovery.”

Overall, private equity activity in Indian real estate is likely to be subdued in 2020, he said.

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