Harsha Raghavan Sets Up PE Firm Steer Capital

By Madhav A Chanchani

  • 17 Dec 2009

Harsha Raghavan, former India head of private equity firm Candover, joins the tribe of industry veterans who are floating their own ventures. Raghavan (in pic) has launched Steer Capital, which will focus on a mix of growth and buyout deals in the mid-market segment.

In an interview to VCCircle, Raghavan declined to comment on who he is partnering with for the fund. "I am in discussions to add to the team at several levels including senior partners," he said, declining to divulge any further.

However, VCCircle has learned from its sources that Raghavan is likely to partner with WNS (Holdings) Ltd co-founder Neeraj Bhargava to set up a new PE fund. An email sent to Bhargava was not answered at the time of posting this story.


Raghavan was till recently leading the India entry of European PE firm Candover, which decided to close its office after troubles back home. He was earlier with Goldman Sachs principal investment group and is one of the few PE pros experienced in buyouts in India. He worked on Goldman's $200-million buyout of Sigma Electric, a manufacturer of low-cost cast metal parts. He has also worked on other Goldman investments like Mahindra & Mahindra, NSE, NCDEX, ICICI, among others.

Raghavan said, the India consumer growth story remains strong. "Our focus will be on new India, playing to the demographic and lifestyles that are prevalent in new India," he said.   

Steer Capital's model would be operationally intensive as it would work closely with promoters and entrepreneurs. The PE firm is already working on several transactions and has started due diligence on companies. Raghavan said that funds for deals were available, without adding any comments on fund-raising.


Interestingly, both Bhargava and Raghavan have experience in private equity and entrepreneurship. The two have been part of India's PE/VC scene for more than decade. This development comes after Bhargava, an entrepreneur-in-residence at Warburg and founder of WNS in 2002, decided to leave active management earlier this year. WNS, where Bhargava was the CEO since 2004, is one of India's largest outsourcing players in which private equity major Warburg Pincus holds over 50% stake.

Bhargava has a background in investing as he was a managing partner with eVentures India, a venture capital firm, before joining WNS. He has also been a partner at McKinsey.

Before joining Goldman in 2004, Raghavan was the co-founder & CEO of Stario, Inc., a Silicon Valley startup that provided turnkey customer relationship management software. Prior to that, he was with Indocean Chase Capital Advisors in Mumbai.


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