South African media and internet conglomerate Naspers Ltd has hired Ashutosh Sharma from venture capital firm Norwest Venture Partners (NVP) to head its investment arm in India.
Sharma has been appointed as India head – investments and M&A at Naspers Ventures, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“Ashutosh Sharma joined the Naspers Ventures team on October 3 and is based out of Bangalore where (we) have a full-time office with investment professionals and portfolio support,” a Naspers spokesperson told Techcircle.in in an emailed statement .
Before joining Naspers, Sharma was a vice president with NVP, a global investment firm which focuses on a range of sectors in India.
Before his stint with NVP, Sharma was an investment manager with Qualcomm Ventures, focusing on seed and series A and B investments in internet and mobile startups.
Sharma is an MBA from Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago and has a bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (BHU), Varanasi.
Sharma did not reply to messages sent by Techcircle.in. Calls made to him for a comment remained unanswered at the time of publishing this report.
“Regarding targets in this financial year, we don’t comment on future M&A activity. That said, India is a significant market for us; we look for opportunities where we can empower people and enrich communities through our investments, particularly in growth markets,” Naspers Ventures’ spokesperson said when asked about its investment plans in India.
“We consider all options that present that opportunity, and Ashutosh’s presence in our Bangalore office will help us identify the potential of new business models and fast growing platforms in the Indian market,” he said.
“The (India) unit has started scouting for deals in the market already, with a focus on early to mid-stage transactions ranging from $10 million to $50 million for a minority stake,” The Economic Times reported.
Naspers already has a presence in India. This comprises a direct business presence, M&As routed through portfolio firms and a few standalone investments.
In October, NASDAQ-listed MakeMyTrip Ltd agreed to merge with ibibo Group, which is co-owned by Naspers. Once the deal is closed, Naspers will become the top shareholder in merged firm.
In September, Naspers-owned PayU acquired Mumbai-based rival Citrus Pay for $130 million (Rs 865 crore).
Naspers also owns a 15% in India’s biggest e-commerce firm Flipkart and a majority holding in consumer-to-consumer classifieds venture OLX where it picked stakes through direct investments.
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