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WestBridge Capital co-founder leaving the firm
Photo Credit: Shah Junaid/VCCircle

One of the four co-founders and managing directors of WestBridge Capital Partners, LLC, a private equity firm focused on investing in Indian public listed companies, is moving on, a person privy to the development told VCCircle.

Surendra Kumar Jain, who led the recommendations on investments in AIA Engineering, Havells India, Idea Cellular, La Opala and Prizm Payment, is leaving the firm to invest through his own family office or personal investment outfit.

He had earlier co-founded and led MeraNet, a college networking site that was started while he was still in business school. Before MeraNet, he worked with the Pentium Pro Design Group at integrated circuits firm Intel Corp. and the Semiconductor Product Group at communication infrastructure firm Motorola Solutions, Inc. Jain holds an MBA from IIM- Ahmedabad and a BTech in electrical engineering from IIT- Delhi as well as an MS (master of science) in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota.

The Economic Times, which first reported the development citing unnamed persons, said that another co-founder Kanarath Payattiyath Balaraj will soon be retiring, although he plans to mentor companies in the portfolio for a while. However, the person cited earlier in the copy told VCCircle that Balaraj is not retiring. But VCCircle could not immediately ascertain whether Balaraj will be stepping down from day-to-day operations of the firm.

Both Balaraj and Jain did not immediately respond to VCCircle queries.

Sandeep Singhal and Sumir Chadha are the other two founders of WestBridge Capital Partners.

Founded in 2000, WestBridge raised money for two funds before it merged with venture capital firm Sequoia Capital in 2006, according to its website.

However, in 2011, the WestBridge team chose to separate itself from Sequoia, although both continue to co-manage several portfolio companies they had jointly invested in. The four -- Sandeep Singhal, Sumir Chadha, Surendra Kumar Jain, and Kanarath Payattiyath Balaraj -- wanted to focus on public equity investing as opposed to the parent Sequoia’s focus on private markets and early-stage investing.

WestBridge invests out of its evergreen fund as against a conventional private equity fund that raises a fixed sum and returns the money along with gains/losses to the limited partners towards the end of its life cycle, usually 10 years. Last year it topped up this fund, taking the assets under management to $1.55 billion (Rs 970 crore).

In recent times, a string of private equity professionals have quit established private equity firms to start their own ventures. Separately, there's another, albeit small, set of founding partners of private equity firms, who have hung up their boots or have taken a non-executive role at the funds they managed. Some of the past examples include Ashish Dhawan of ChrysCapital and Luis Miranda of IDFC PE. A more recent example is Ajay Relan of CX Partners.

Movement of top partners of private equity firms typically also triggers a 'key man' clause where limited partners or the actual investors in private equity funds can freeze fresh investments and not release previously committed money to the fund, if key people in the fund management team quit. However, in a few cases where the key driver of the fund has ceased to be with the firm due to death (Milestone Capital) or other reasons, the limited partners have chosen to stay put.

WestBridge invests largely through secondary market bets in listed companies, though it has invested in a few private companies and participated in preferential issues of listed firms. It has a good track record of a number of multi-baggers taking advantage of the rally in the stock market over the last three years in particular.

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