Vishnu Varshney, the long-time MD & CEO of Gujarat Venture Finance Ltd (GVFL), has stepped down from his current role, VCCircle has learned. Mihir Joshi, the vice president & company secretary, has been appointed as as the interim MD of the Ahmedabad-based venture capital firm. Joshi confirmed this development to VCCircle and said that clarity on new MD may emerge in next one month.

It's not clear why Varshney has quit the operational role even before a permanent replacement was found. Varshney, who has now become the Vice Chairman of the fund, will focus on larger issues like business development and fund raising, an official from GVFL said. Some industry sources say, Varshney may stay with the fund for another six months so that he can hand over the work.

Sources said a former GVFL hand was in the reckoning to take over as new MD of the firm. When VCCircle contacted him, he said he was no longer in the race for the job, requesting not to be identified.

Varshney helped set up GVFL, the oldest venture capital in the country, in 1990, under the aegis of World Bank and GIIC (Gujarat Industrial Investment Corporation). He has been at the helm of the fund since inception.

Even though Varshney was one of the pioneers of venture capital & private equity business in the country, GVFL is not even in the top quartile of funds in terms of fund size or scale of operations. GVFL, which targets early stage companies, manages approximately Rs 133 crore ($26-27 million) in five funds. It has so far made 68 investments and 57 exits. The firm has also been in the market to raise Rs 250 crore SME Technology Venture Fund.

The major shareholders in GVFL are GIIC, UK-based emerging markets fund-of-funds manager CDC, India's leading private sector banks ICICI and HDFC, Zydus Cadila, other corporate bodies and its employees. It has raised funds from institutions like CDC, IDBI, SIDBI, World Bank and other private and public sector organizations. The chairman of the GVFL board is GC Murmu, an IAS officer who is MD of GIIC.

A graduate in Electrical Engineering from IIT Kanpur, Varshney has also done MS and MBA from Louisiana State University, USA. He was one of the co-founders of Indian Venture Capital Association (IVCA), where he served as a Secretary (1995-97) and then Chairman (1997-2000). Varshney was also a member of KB Chandrasekhar committee appointed by SEBI for drafting VC guidelines.

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