Is General Atlantic Partners rejigging itself to chase new India opportunities? Industry speculation suggests that one of the prolific private equity giants in India, till sometime ago, General Atlantic is putting in place new role definitions for its top management in the country.
Sources tell VCCircle that Ranjit Pandit, a recent hire as Managing Director from McKinsey, along with another existing MD Sunish Sharma may be spearheading the search for new investments and deal-making. Abhay Havaldar, who has been the face of the fund, will be focused on portfolio companies, working on the road ahead for these investments and devising exit strategies.
This possibly comes at a time when General Atlantic has decided to look beyond IT/ITES and export-oriented sectors for future investments, and has started chasing the domestic consumption as well as infrastruture as the new themes. An email sent to the spokesperson of the private equity firm fetched a response as saying, “ It is our firm policy not to comment on personnel matters but it is inaccurate to say that there has been a re-alignment in responsibilities. Abhay’s title has not changed and remains Managing Director.”
Speculation regarding a rejig in operational roles comes soon after one of its Managing Directors, Raul Rai, made a sudden exit recently. General Atlantic brought in Ranjit Pandit essentially to chase non-IT themes.
Till recently, General Atlantic's investments had a tech skew with Patni Computer Sertvices ($100 million in 2002), Hexaware Technologies ($67.6 million in 2006), Infotech Enterprises Ltd, IBS Software Services Pvt Ltd and BPO major Genpact. Its other investments include National Stock Exchange ($115 million) and Jubilant Organosys Ltd ($25 million in 2005).
Earlier this year, General Atlantic was part of a consortium that invested $425 million into Asian Genco, a Singapore-based entity developing power assets mostly in India. This was the fund's first India investment in nearly three years.
General Atlantic's portfolio exits includes Daksh eServices (acquired by IBM), NDTV (promoters bought back the stake) and Sharekhan (CVCI acquired the stake). There has been sporadic speculation in recent months that General Atlantic may be looking to exit some of its IT investments, some of which are between 5-8 years old. Recent media reports also indicated that General Atlantic along with Oak Hill Partners was exploring a possible sale of Genpact. This year, both these funds along with Wells Fargo had cut their stake in the BPO major by 13% for $420 million.
In a recent interaction with VCCircle, Havaldar said this, on the change in their investment approach: "Earlier, we were into export-led businesses serving global demand with an Indian cost structure (IT, BPO and pharma outsourcing). Those businesses did very well when the exchange rates were unidirectional. This has become more volatile now. It took us some more time to figure out this whole domestic consumption and infrastructure piece because that is not an area where we have made significant investments in other parts of the world.”