Indian infrastructure firms better positioned to withstand Covid disruptions: Moody’s

India News Network | June 28
New Delhi:
According to Moody’s Investors Service, India’s power companies and ports are expected to better withstand the impact of pandemic-led disruptions compared with airports and toll road operators.
India suffered a devastating second wave when coronavirus cases jumped sharply between the second week of April and early May. While the central government resisted imposing another nationwide lockdown like last year’s, state authorities stepped up localized restrictions to stem the spread of the virus.
“The lockdowns, along with public behavioral changes, are curbing economic activity and mobility, which will have a varied impact on infrastructure companies,” Abhishek Tyagi, vice president and senior credit officer at Moody’s, said in a statement quoted by a CNBC report.
India’s regional lockdowns led to lower electricity demand as well as lower traffic volumes for transportation companies. But, labor availability has not been significantly affected so far.
The business models of rated power companies allow them to manage the current contraction in demand and withstand a moderate extension of the cash conversion cycle, which refers to the number of days it takes for a firm to convert its investments into cash flows from sales.
That is because Indian power companies are dependent on state-owned distribution firms that are likely to be under financial stress due to lower demand.
In the event that demand stays low for longer and there is a subsequent cash squeeze, Moody’s said the power companies have good access to liquidity and support.
Further, Moody’s expects that the recovery of Indian airports, some of which are undergoing debt-funded expansion plans, will be pushed back further due to the second wave and subsequent regional lockdowns. International travel is set to take even longer to recover due to border closures.
Moody’s said that the disruption caused by the second wave will “likely lead to lower traffic and revenue in fiscal 2022, and potentially fiscal 2023, relative to our earlier forecasts.”
According to Moody’s, an increase in India’s Covid vaccination rates could be a major driver for a recovery for airports.
Prolonged restrictions on movements or renewed lockdowns will continue to have an adverse impact on toll road operators and put pressure on their credit quality, the ratings agency said.
India’s rated ports performed well in the last fiscal year despite the economic contraction due to the pandemic and were able to improve their market shares, according to Moody’s.
Port operators have remained mostly unaffected by the regional lockdowns because “the movement of goods across the country has remained normal and both ports also have sufficient buffers in their financial profiles to absorb any temporary disruptions,” Moody’s said.

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