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Blackstone scouts for industry honchos

The world's largest buyout fund Blackstone is hiring top executives from India Inc to carry out portfolio management, reports Indulal PM.

business Updated: Jan 16, 2008 21:54 IST
Indulal PM

The world's largest buyout fund Blackstone is hiring top executives from India Inc to carry out portfolio management. Former Haldia Petrochemicals Managing Director Richard Saldana has joined Blackstone as executive director (portfolio management).

Saldana is expected to be looking after the operations of the Bangalore-based Gokaldas Exports in which Blackstone had picked up a strategic stake. The buyout fund, which does efficiency improvement programmes for its portfolio companies, is planning to launch a productivity improvement plan at Gokaldas. "Saldana will be in charge of this project," said a source familiar with the situation.

Chief operating officer of drug company Bilcare Gautam Chakravarti has also recently joined Blackstone as executive director (portfolio management).

"Globally, all the good PE funds have senior industry specialists to handle portfolio management. This is not familiar in India, as the PE boom has just started. But bigger PE firms are trying to replicate the model they have successfully tested in the US and Europe," said Bijal Joshi, India head of UK-based PE and I-Banking firm Euromax Capital.

However, global PE firms are hiring top Indian executives to head their portfolio. Recently, ICICI Ventures has hired former country head of Pepsi as joint managing director of the fund. Akshay Bhargava set up the BPO arm for Infosys (earlier known as Progeon and now renamed as Infosys BPO). Bhargava joined UK private equity firm 3i. Last year, Kishore Biyani-promoted private equity firm Indivision had hired former Coca-Cola India chief Sanjeev Gupta.

The expert can analyse the global trend with reference to the Indian atmosphere. "If a PE firm is making a $1 billion investment in a BPO firm and you have a person like Akshay Bhargava (former head of Infosys BPO), it would be easy for the company to handle that portfolio. These people can create value for the investments," said a Mumbai-based analyst working with Macquarie Bank.

Private equity funds have invested over $19.03 billion (approximately Rs 76, 120 crore) in the country in 2007.