2009 saw some professionals taking the entrepreneurial plunge by setting up their own funds perhaps borrowing from the ecosystem they serve. Starting off in a bad year takes courage which was on ample display in 2009.

Infosys founder and every entrepreneur’s hero, N R Narayana Murthy, came out with his decision to support new ideas in his second innings. Besides, 2009 also recorded some new funds setting shop in India. Read on to know about those who chose the lateral path.


Catamaran Investment Pvt Ltd is the new venture capital fund launched by N R Narayana Murthy (and his family), chief mentor of Infosys Technologies Ltd. An early stage venture capital fund, Catamaran will invest in healthcare, retail and technology companies in India and may consider investing overseas on a case-to-case basis. As of November 2009, the fund has a total of $129 million (around Rs 600 crore) in corpus in which Murthy’s wife Sudha Murthy contributed $92 million, while the remaining $37 million came from Murthy himself. The fund plans to start investing in projects from March 2010 onwards.

Multiples is a private equity fund launched by Renuka Ramnath, the former chief of ICICI Venture. The fund was launched with a target corpus of about $500 million targeting pension funds, fund-of-funds and a select group of high net-worth individuals. The fund is looking at 50:50 domestic-international investments ratio. As of July 13, 2009, the fund had commitments of $150-$200 million. Ramnath has worked with ICICI for 20 years in various roles of the group. She has been the Managing Director & CEO of ICICI Venture since 2001. Under Ramnath's leadership, ICICI Venture had emerged as India's biggest private equity fund, with assets under management around $2.5 billion in private equity, buyouts, real estate and mezzanine.

Steer Capital, floated by Harsha Raghavan, the former managing director of UK PE firm Candover in India, is one of the latest entrants in the Indian private equity space. Launched in December 2009, the firm focuses on a mix of growth and buyout deals in the mid-market segment. Keeping India’s consumer growth story in mind, the fund has planned to focus on new India, playing to the demographics and consumer-driven lifestyles.

Advent International, a global buyout firm which targets both growth and control-deal opportunities in the country, opened its India office in September 2009. The fund, which has been investing from its $10-billion GPE VI fund that focuses on Western Europe and North America, plans to invest in diverse sectors in India and look at deals over $50 million with significant minority interest and board presence. It targets companies where the fund helps in areas like M&A, IPOs and hiring of key personnel. Advent made its first Indian investment in October 2007 in Computer Age Management Services Ltd (CAMS), a transaction processing company.

OrbiMed, a New York-based healthcare-focused global private equity fund with about $5 billion in assets under management, made its first investment in India recently in Ecron Acunova, a Bangalore-based clinical research organisation. OrbiMed manages a host of venture capital funds under Caduceus Private Investments series and a family of public equity investment funds. The PE firm has an office in Mumbai and received its foreign venture capital investor (FCVI) registration only earlier this year.

PE Indian Infrastructure Fund set up shop in India in September 2009. The fund, sponsored by two Europe-based financial groups -- Principle and Europa, is headed by Shailesh Pathak, a former IAS officer and a former senior director of ICICI Venture. With a target of raising $1 billion in the long-term, the fund was looking at making a first close of $300 million by the end of 2009 or early 2010. It is targeting to invest in early-stage and greenfield infrastructure projects in India. The sponsors have $1 billion under management coupled with $2 billion under fund administration services. PE IIF is the first India fund of Principle and Europa, which had previously set up two infrastructure funds in Africa.

Akansa Capital is reportedly the fund launched by former vice-chairman of Wipro Technologies Vivek Paul. Akansa Capital, with a target corpus of a $300-400 million, was expecting first closure by the end of 2009.  Akansa Capital was launched with "sector agnostic" investment target, funneled into companies in India, with some investments in companies which have presence in Asia as well. Paul, who quit buyout giant Texas Pacific Group (TPG) late 2008, launched Kinetic Glue Online Communities to make investments in other companies that have a presence in the Internet space.

Stega Capital is a venture capital fund launched by Srini Vudagiri and K Ganapathy Subramanian. Prior to going it alone, Vudayagiri was a venture partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners while Ganapathy was CEO of India Innovation Fund and former founding partner of JumptStartup, a VC fund which was closed down. Stega Capital seeks to partner with young knowledge-driven companies that are pursuing high growth business addressing the opportunities of “New India”. Though details on the fund size are not known yet, it will be interesting to see what these two industry veterans create.

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