Three Indian private equity executives belonging to two of the top global investment firms are on their way out from their present organisations to raise a fund of their own. Manish Kejriwal, who is heading India, Africa and the Middle East operations at Temasek Holdings, the Singapore-government owned sovereign wealth fund, is quitting the firm, at least three sources familiar with the matter told VCCircle.
In an e-mail response to VCCircle, Stephen Forshaw, managing director (corporate affairs) of Temasek, confirmed the development. “Manish Kejriwal has decided to step down as Head of Temasek India, in order to explore a new fund platform in India. He will continue to support Temasek in an advisory capacity,” the message stated.
Forshaw added that Rohit Sipahimalani, co-head of Temasek India, will take over from Kejriwal as head of Temasek India.
Kejriwal joined Temasek in 2004 and he has been responsible for the SWF’s investments in India and investments in the financial services sector globally. For instance, he led Temasek’s investment in Merrill Lynch, prior to the meltdown. Before Temasek, Kejriwal was a partner at McKinsey & Company, Inc. A graduate of Dartmouth College (Economics & Engineering) and Harvard Business School (Baker Scholar), Kejriwal is well-connected in the Indian industry circles. He also happens to be the son-in-law of Rahul Bajaj, chairman of Bajaj Auto Ltd.
Kejriwal is joining hands with another top PE fund manager Sunish Sharma, managing director at General Atlantic (GA), to raise an independent private equity fund, sources said. When contacted on his hand phone, Sharma, who is based in GA’s Mumbai office, directed us to Pat Hedley, managing director, based in the firm’s Connecticut office.
“Sunish Sharma is leaving General Atlantic to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities. We wish him all the best and thank him for his valuable contributions to the firm over many years,” Hedley said in an e-mail message to VCCircle.
According to sources, Nishant Sharma, a principal at GA’s Mumbai office, may also be quitting the firm along with Sunish Sharma, although this could not be independently confirmed. Nishant had joined GA in 2006 and prior to that, he had worked with McKinsey & Co after graduating from IIT-Delhi and Harvard Business School.
Sharma had virtually become the number two at GA as he was the only MD in Mumbai after Ranjit Pandit, who was acting as India head and managing director. Abhay Havaldar, another MD, is said to be cooling off in Singapore as part of a two-year transitioning out.
At GA, Sharma had been focusing on opportunities in India and the Asia-Pacific region. And within the company, he had focused on the firm’s business services & technology, healthcare, financial services and energy & resources sectors. Earlier, he was a director at the broking firm Sharekhan and IT company Infotech Enterprises. Currently, Sharma is a director on the Hexaware board.
Prior to joining the global PE firm in 2004, Sharma worked with McKinsey & Company, Inc. for six-and-a-half years. He is a gold medallist from IIM-Kolkata, where he did his MBA after graduating from Delhi University.
Given their background, Kejriwal and Sharma are likely to raise a fund which will focus on large-sized growth deals. Industry observers are, however, surprised at the timing of the duo’s entrepreneurial plunge as the global fundraising market is currently in turmoil and India is less favoured, compared to China and even Indonesia, which has lately become a popular hunting ground. Besides, there are at least 60 Indian funds currently on road to raise a combined $8 billion, making the market more crowded.
Under Kejriwal, Temasek – one of the most active sovereign wealth funds in India – has struck marquee deals with sector leaders in healthcare, telecom and banking, among others. Among its present and past portfolios are India’s top tier healthcare firms Apollo Hospitals and Max India. It also became one of the first investment fund houses to gain exposure to the Indian insurance market, although indirectly.
Incidentally, Max India holds 73.68 per cent in Max New York Life Insurance, besides 74 per cent stake in Max Bupa Health Insurance.
Temasek also holds stake in key Indian companies, such as ICICI Bank, top telecom firm Bharti Airtel & its infrastructure arm Bharti Infratel and direct-to-home television service operator Tata Sky.
The Indian PE industry has seen a huge churn in the recent past with top executives quitting their well-established companies and going solo. Rajesh Khanna, former Warburg Pincus managing director and India head, left his job to start a new private equity fund Arka Capital. Other PE executives who had quit last year for setting up their own ventures include Ranjeet Nabha, former managing director and CEO of India operations, WL Ross & Co, and PR Srinivasan, former managing director & India region head of Citigroup Venture Capital International (CVCI). Earlier, Ajay Relan (another ex-CVCI executive) started his own investment firm CX Partners while Renuka Ramnath (ex-head, ICICI Venture) started Multiples.