Krishnamurthy Vijayan revives $40M impact investment fund Charioteer

Krishnamurthy Vijayan, former chief executive officer and executive chairman at JPMorgan Asset Management India and a veteran of mutual fund industry, has revived plans to raise a new impact investment fund, aiming to scoop up Rs 250 crore ($40 million).

Vijayan, who is founder and managing director of Charioteer I4L, said that the company has obtained approval to raise the impact investment fund christened Charioteer Fund-I to invest in India's livelihood and skills development space.

He is aiming to make a first close at Rs 100 crore by June this year by approaching both institutional as well as high net worth investors in India. The firm would go about raising the remaining tranche of Rs 150 crore in the second half of the year after deploying the first tranche.

The fund is registered as a Category-I Social Alternate Investment Fund under the SEBI (Alternate Investment Funds) Regulation, 2012.

The firm had proposed to launch the fund two years ago but decided to stay put as the market was not conducive to raising money within India, Vijayan told VCCircle.

He added that the firm also made some changes in its investment strategy along the way.

“We had originally limited ourselves to clusters but so few of them are investible that we have decided to look at other forms of organisations that invite participation by their labour in ownership or harness the power of micro-entrepreneurship such as fair-trades,” he said.

Vijayan said the firm has also added a separate share class to accept grants which makes it possible to route corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds through Charioteer without compromising on any of the requirements of the CSR rules.

“We would be open to looking at deals worth Rs 5-25 crore; but I guess somewhere in the middle would be the sweet spot. I do not think we will exceed 10-12 investments in this fund,” he said.

The fund will invest in companies that create livelihood, including manufacturing companies run by first-generation entrepreneurs and social enterprises, including profitable micro-finance companies.

Meanwhile, Vijayan has also inducted Sudhindra Ballal as head of equity. Ballal was with Daiwa Asset Management in Singapore, managing its Asian assets.

Vijayan, a veteran of the mutual fund industry, started his career at UTI in 1986. Over the years he also worked at JM Financial and Jardine Fleming before joining JPMorgan Chase. He quit the firm to join IDBI Asset Management and soon moved on to join Mi India, a group of entities aiming to create an Indian equity fund for investing in microfinance institutions and social enterprises, as co-chairman.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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