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'We may look at an India-focused fund'

By BS Reporter
August 19, 2010 11:44 IST
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Akhil Gupta Since September 2005, Blackstone has invested $1.25 billion in India.

Today's announcement by the US-based private equity fund of investing $300 million (Rs 1,350 crore) in Moser Baer Projects Private Ltd is the largest investment by a single investor in the Indian power sector.

In a chat with Business Standard, Blackstone India chairman and managing director Akhil Gupta says the PE player is eyeing investment opportunities in infrastructure and personal consumption-driven sectors and may raise an India-focused fund.

Edited excerpts:

How is the overall environment, especially from the point of view of valuations, in India?

The PE scene is very good, both on the demand and supply side. And, because it is value-added money, a lot of private players are recognising the worth of India.

We feel India has to fire on all cylinders and the Indian stocks are completely valued at this point of time.

Investment in MBPPL is the largest in the power sector and your second after Monnet Power. Is power increasingly gaining importance in Blackstone's Rportfolio?

Infrastructure development continues to remain one of our key investment themes in India and we infused $360 million in the power sector, including investment in Monnet Power and Moser Baer.

We are in active dialogue with several other power project developers for further investments.

Which are the other sectors that are attractive for you?

Though we are sector-agnostic when it comes to investment, we are looking at two dominant themes, namely infrastructure and personal consumption. Infrastructure includes ports, power and roads, while there are sub-sectors in personal consumption like media, retail and FMCG that have high propensity to consume.

We are looking at the two of them in a 50-50 way and one investment can turn into another. On the other hand, there are sectors like telecom that is facing a tough time or airlines which is a difficult and risky sector. We are also evaluating healthcare.

What about exits?

There is no pressure on us to sell, as we look at risk-adjusted returns. An average fund has 11 years of life and we don't exit unless there are incremental pressures to do so.

What about the plans of raising an India-focused fund?

We might raise an India-focused fund soon, but there is no time frame attached to it. These things just happen and there is no pipeline as such.

Image: Akhil Gupta

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BS Reporter in New Delhi
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