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Nokia, the world’s largest handset-maker, has pumped $150 million into its private equity arm, Nokia Growth Partners. Most importantly for India, the private equity fund is establishing “direct operations” in the country, besides China.

Nokia Growth Partners, launched in 2004, is focused on investing in companies involved in mobile technology, services and media. Target investments also include companies creating innovative mobile applications and services that encourage rapid adoption of mobile solutions, such as context and location based services, mobile payments, mobile advertising, music and entertainment and other mobile services and software. With the new fund infusion Nokia Growth Partners also plans to augment its investment activities in the U.S. and Europe.

With the additional investment of $150 million from Nokia, the funds under management for direct investments has increased to $250 million. Nokia Growth Partners had picked up a small stake in Bangalore-based Sasken Communication Technologies by investing $3 million in 2005. Nokia Growth Partners is also involved in fund of fund investments with investments in as many as six venture capital and private equity funds. One of these is Blue Run Ventures, which was previously the corporate venture arm of mobile handset maker Nokia, in which Nokia still remains a key investor.

Some of the other funds in which Nokia Growth Partners has invested in are Oak Hill Capital Partners, Gobi Partners, Founders Fund, among others. The fund has so far invested in nine companies globally.

“Nokia’s new commitments will more than double our capital under direct management, enabling us to scale globally and better support Nokia strategic interests at a critical time for the industry. Alignment with the global industry leader in mobile devices and a leading innovator in the convergence of mobility and the Internet is a clear advantage for the companies in which we invest,” said John Gardner, Partner, Nokia Growth Partners.

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