Private equity major India Value Fund Advisors and Neeraj Bhargava’s Zodius Capital have made ‘significant private investment’ in Whitefield, a company formed to build and acquire a global network of marketing solutions companies. Bhargava, who was co-founder and group CEO of outsourcing major WNS Global Services, is also the chairman of the company.
Besides Bhargava, India Value Fund’s partners Pramod Kabra and Mahesh Krishnamurthy sit on the board of Whitefield, which has offices in New York, London, Bangalore and Chennai.
According to Whitefield, it has recently integrated two companies – FMG and Whitefield Analytics. In March this year, India Value Fund acquired a controlling stake in FMG, a Chennai and north London-based pre-media business, for about $20 million.
FMG, founded in 1984, is a media production agency which designs, creates, produces and manages content across all media on behalf of its clients. Whitefield Analytics provides marketing analysis offerings such as marketing mix management, campaign effectiveness, brand equity & long-term ROI analysis, pricing and sales modelling, among others.
In addition, Whitefield plans to acquire and build capabilities in digital, mobile, social media, packaging design, analytics and marketing technologies.
Whitefield’s management team includes Aditya Sharma, who is the firm’s co-founder and group COO. He also leads Whitefield’s global business development and the launch of strategic business units such as Whitefield Analytics. Previously, Sharma had helped establish Williams Lea’s marketing, creative and production design hub in Chennai. He has also held senior roles at Capital One in Asia and JPMorgan Chase, besides being a managing director with eVentures (where Bhargava also worked before joining WNS).
Simon Berg, co-founder of FMG, continues to be its CEO and also looks after Whitefield’s business in the UK. Others in the management team include Anish Nanavaty as executive vice-president and Lyndon Rodrigues, former CIO and managing director at WNS.
“Whitefield understands the rapidly changing needs of today’s CMO (chief marketing officer) and is redefining what it is to be a marketer in the digital era. We combine the creative aspects of media production with analytics and latest technologies, delivered through innovative business models that tap into the best global talent available, to deliver high-impact digital campaigns,” said Whitefield chairman Neeraj Bhargava.
Bhargava’s Zodius Capital Advisors is a growth capital and build-out company, focusing on business & information services, education and internet & e-commerce. He had earlier planned to set up a private equity fund with former Candover India head Harsha Raghavan, but parted ways last year.
Bhargava, an entrepreneur-in-residence at Warburg and founder of WNS in 2002, has quit the firm last 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 per cent 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.
India Value Fund is one the largest independent PE firms in India with $1.4 billion under its management across four funds. It has incubated several companies like Akshayini Oorja, which aggregates small hydro power projects, and India Finserve Advisors, which focuses on providing financial services to bottom of the pyramid. Its other portfolio firms include Atria Convergence Technologies (ACT TV), UEM Global and DM Healthcare.