Avigo Capital Partners has roped in Mahendra Swarup as a partner for the SME-focused mid-market private equity fund manager. He currently serves as the president and the member of the executive committee of Indian Venture Capital Association, a national organisation representing venture capital and private equity firms.

He will be the third partner at Avigo Capital, besides founding partner Achal Ghai and general partner S. Harikrishnan, who is currently leading all mid-market investments for the firm. Swarup is expected to join the PE firm’s Delhi office in May.

Swarup has over 30 years of experience in operations, sales & distribution, purchasing/procurement, exports and human resources. He had also served as the MD and CEO of Times Internet Ltd. Prior to TIL, he had worked as the executive director at PepsiCo India.

Swarup began his career with ACC Ltd as a fresher from FMS, Delhi. At ACC, he was responsible for corporate restructuring, as well as design and implementation of comprehensive corporate planning systems. He has been an independent director at Micromax Informatics Ltd since September 21, 2009, and serves as a director at Smile Multimedia Pvt Ltd, Quasar Media Pvt Ltd, Tyroo Media Pvt Ltd, BBF Ltd, S.J. Counselling Pvt Ltd, Kangaroo Properties Pvt Ltd, Vis Legis Consult Pvt Ltd and Bhavya Fashionplex Pvt Ltd.

With the days of financial engineering nearly over, private equity firms have no other alternative but to improve the quality of businesses they buy. As a result, they are now increasingly looking at ramping up their teams with people who have significant industry experience. “We are lucky to get Mahendra on board, given his corporate and investment experience. He will help create more value, particularly in our consumer-facing portfolio, besides sourcing deals and making new investments,” Achal Ghai, founder and managing partner of Avigo Capital, told VCCircle.

Avigo has been slowly but steadily making consumer bets, thereby shedding its image of building an industrials-heavy portfolio. It has invested in Spykar Lifestyles, a homegrown denim brand, diagnostics firm Super Religare Laboratories (SRL) and Technology Frontiers (I) Pvt Ltd, a Chennai-based sports media management company.

Swarup already has a connection with Avigo Capital as he currently serves as an independent director in two of its portfolio companies – Bharat Box Factory Ltd (a packaging and contract manufacturer) and Technology Frontiers (I) Pvt Ltd (a sports media management company).

This appointment comes soon after the PE firm saw one of its partners quit. Girija Tripathy, who joined the firm as a partner, had left the firm barely five months after joining. Tripathy specialised in buy-outs, given his experience as an investment principal at Actis, a buyout specialist private equity firm. This, however, did not align well with Avigo Capital’s philosophy of making growth capital investments, which led to Tripathy transitioning out to set up his mid-market buyout fund in partnership with an investment bank.

Avigo has been active in the Indian private equity space since 2003. It manages a growth and a buyout SME fund in India and is now managing approximately $365 million across three funds. Avigo is currently investing out of its third fund, which had its final closing in June 2010, at $240 million. Subsequently, the PE firm is sitting on uninvested capital of nearly $100 million out of its third fund.

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