Zombie’ Buildings Worth Rs. 4.47 Lakh Crore Sound Warning For Banks

Zombie' Buildings Worth Rs 4.47 Lakh Crore Sound Warning For Banks

Non-real estate borrowers are getting caught in the cross-fire.

 

Ashish Shah is caught in the middle of country’s latest financial crisis. As chief operating officer of Radius Developers, he’s struggling to fund construction of apartment complexes because of a liquidity crunch in the nation’s bloated shadow-banking sector.

“Real estate is a sitting duck,” said Mr Shah. “The timing is very crucial as the slowdown has hit the real estate market quite hard. The industry can’t service interest, new interest, additional interest, because there is no cash flow.”

Radius and hundreds of other developers relied on loans from what India calls non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) to fuel a five-year property boom. That came to a halt a year ago with the default of one of the shadow banking sector’s leading lenders, Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services. The resulting credit squeeze has left builders such as Radius and Omkar Realtors & Developers Pvt. looking for support, or, like scandal-hit Housing Development & Infrastructure Ltd., filing for bankruptcy.

There are $63 billion (Rs. 4.47 lakh crore) of stalled residential projects across the country, according to Anarock Property Consultants, and their developers have become locked in a downward spiral with shadow banks. As lenders stop new credit, builders are forced to offload properties. Prices fall, causing more real estate loans to turn sour, pushing more shadow banks toward default.

In turn, that has cast a shadow on traditional banks and dried up funding to other businesses, putting more stress on an already slowing economy.

For Radius, the crunch started when one of its main lenders, Dewan Housing Finance, shut off new loans as it attempts to restructure some $12.7 billion debt to avoid bankruptcy. Mr Shah said he gained a temporary reprieve by selling a project to Blackstone Group, but like all builders, his company needs cash to operate while projects are being built.