India’s power sector has seen several sweeping changes in the recent past,” notes P.R. Jaishankar, chief general manager, India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited (IIFCL). “Generation has increased significantly, domestic coal production has improved and the share of renewables in the energy mix has increased. The UDAY scheme is a step in the right direction to fix the precarious financial condition of the state discoms.”
Jaishankar has nearly three decades of experience in the development banking and financial sector. Prior to joining IIFCL, he served at the National Housing Bank (NHB) for 22 years, holding various senior-level positions including regional manager with independent charge of three regional offices. He is recognised for having conceptualised and structured the first-ever mortgage securitisation transaction and the first reverse mortgage loan in India. He also developed the first affordable housing finance product for financing self-help groups.
In his current role, which he took over in 2013, he is responsible for infrastructure project finance, new product development and corporate planning. He has also formulated a number of innovative products and instruments. Jaishankar also serves as chairman, IIFCL IDF Mutual Fund; director, IFCI Factors Limited; and director, IIFCL Projects Limited.
On key issues in the sector, Jaishankar comments, “Investors are increasingly becoming cautious about buying assets, especially those where off-take agreements have been signed at higher tariffs. Subdued demand and low PLFs further reduce the attractiveness of assets, whether thermal or solar.” According to him, the sector is less likely to see any significant improvement in the short term and while the government has taken steps to improve the situation, the benefits will only be tangible in the long run. “In the near to medium term, the sentiment is likely to remain subdued as investors and financiers gauge the outcome of ongoing reforms.”
Despite the cautious approach, IIFCL has sanctioned over Rs 430 billion of loans for around 180 power projects as of March 2017. He feels that measures such as proper due diligence and financial restructuring by lenders to turn around stressed projects will go a long way in attracting new promoters to bring in fresh equity investments.
A civil engineer from Osmania University, Jaishankar also has an M.Tech from IIT Delhi and a degree from the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi.