The Telegraph
Monday , July 18 , 2016
 
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Bharti Realty city dream grows bigger

Calcutta, July 17: Bharti Realty, the real estate arm of Bharti Enterprises, is scouting for new projects in Calcutta as the Mittal family-owned company strives to consolidate its position in Bengal.

The company, which is on the verge of delivering its first project in Rajarhat, intends to join hands with local land owners for co-development. It prefers to be in a location that has all the infrastructure in place.

Managing director and CEO Sushil Sayal said it was on the look-out for both commercial and residential projects. "Our strategy is to consolidate and expand in a market where Bharti Realty is already present."

It has developed a four-acre plot in Rajarhat, building a 5,35,000-square-foot office and retail complex named Astra Towers and sold 80 per cent of the stock. Bharti has applied for an occupancy certificate, as well.

The company has not pursued a lease model, preferring outright sale. While the office space is being offered at a range of Rs 5,200 per sq ft, the retail area has an asking rate of Rs 7,200 per sq ft.

Bharti is not inclined to buy land itself but wants to join hands with those who possess it.

Sayal indicated that the company wanted to leverage its strong brand name - Bharti Enterprises runs India's largest telecom business Airtel - and execution skill to complete and sell projects.

A clean land title and the basic approvals should be in place, Sayal said, adding that Bharti would take up work from there and develop, bringing in changes in the original plan, if required.

However, Bharti does not want to wade into uncharted territory where infrastructure is not ready. Many projects in Rajarhat took longer than usual to take off as physical and social infrastructure were not ready.

Bharti bought the Rajarhat plot for Rs 30 crore in late 2010 to build its eastern region headquarters, with an objective to run a call centre, IT facilities and IT-enabled business. It later applied for a change of use of the project and decided to exploit it commercially for office and retail.

Bharti's real estate journey started with building its own office space. Most of its projects are located in Gurgaon, Delhi and Manesar and in commercial retail space. It has now ventured into residential, partnering the Eros group.

If Bharti manages to launch another project in Calcutta, it will be a breakaway from the jinx which many national, especially Delhi-based developers, have faced in the past.

DLF and Unitech, once poster boys of Delhi realty, ventured into Calcutta during the boom of 2005-07 but they failed to carry forward the initial euphoria.

"Local developers have a reputation to protect since their primary market is Calcutta and Bengal. The same could not be said about outsiders as not many of them came back with repeat projects. Lack of large opportunities also limited their scope here," a city-based developer said.


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