Friday, July 1, 2022

The team at Nalanda has had a long and successful track record of investing in India

The founder of Nalanda Capital, Pulak Prasad, has had eight and a half years of investing experience in India with the global private equity firm Warburg Pincus. Overall, he has had more than fifteen years of work experience at three global firms.

Pulak is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology (Delhi) where he completed his engineering degree in 1989. Then, he worked at Unilever in India for slightly less than a year. He then joined the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad, and was one of only five Indians hired by the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company when it entered India in 1992. While he joined McKinsey in the Mumbai office, he had two long overseas stints – he went to South Africa in 1995-96, and was in the Stamford (Connecticut, US) office in 1997-98.

Pulak joined Warburg Pincus as an associate in mid 1998, and was promoted to Managing Director in January 2001. He was subsequently made the co-head of Warburg Pincus’ South East Asia and Indian operations in the year 2002.

Pulak has built a strong network of entrepreneurs, professionals, lawyers, accountants and advisors in the Indian market over the years. Over the eight and a half years at Warburg Pincus, almost all the investments that Pulak was involved in were in Indian companies. In alphabetical order, some of the companies Pulak was involved in (along with other Warburg Pincus professionals) are as follows:

  • Amtek Auto – is a listed auto component company based in Delhi. Warburg Pincus purchased secondary stock from the market through a series of block trades.
  • Apar – was an information technology services company that was sold by Warburg Pincus and the promoters of Apar to Ness, an Israel based services company. Pulak was on the board of directors of Apar.
  • Aryan Coal – is a coal washing and power generation company. Pulak was on the board of directors of Aryan.
  • Bharti Airtel – is India’s largest private sector telecommunications company. This investment from Warburg Pincus was led by Dalip Pathak (who is currently heading Europe for Warburg Pincus), and Pulak was the associate on the deal. Pulak was inducted on Bharti Airtel’s board in November 2001, and continues to be on the Bharti board of directors as an independent director (Warburg Pincus has divested all its stake in the company).
  • Writers & Publishers Limited – is the company which publishes “Dainik Bhaskar” and “Divya Bhaskar”, and is one of the largest regional newspaper companies in India. Pulak was on the board of the company.
  • Rediff – is India’s largest internet portal, and is listed on Nasdaq in the US. Chip Kaye, the current CEO of Warburg Pincus, led the investment and Pulak was the associate on the deal. Chip was on the board initially. Pulak came on Rediff’s board in December 2002, and continues on the board currently.
  • Radhakrishan Foods – is a Mumbai based retail services company. Pulak was on the board of the company.
  • Satyam – is one of India’s largest information technology services company, and the investment in Satyam was made through purchase of secondary shares through multiple block trades in the market.
  • Sintex – is a significant player in high end plastics and textile manufacturing in India. The investment by Warburg Pincus was through a combination of preferential allotment and open offer. Pulak was on the board of Sintex.
  • Vaibhav Gems – is the leading exporter of semi-precious stones and jewellery from India. The investment by Warburg Pincus was made through a combination of preferential allotment and open offer.

In addition to these investments, Pulak was also involved in some early stage investments in technology and internet related companies in the late 1990s, which led to a write-off of more than US$45 million for Warburg Pincus.

The investment team at Nalanda Capital has four professionals in addition to Pulak. Three of these four professionals have worked with global private equity firms in India, and the fourth person has worked with the division of an Indian firm that invests in the Indian public markets. In addition, Nalanda has a COO (Chief Operations Officer).

These professionals are:

  1. Gaurav Kothari: Gaurav is a Chartered accountant and Harvard Business School PLD graduate. Gaurav also holds a FRM certificate and is pursuing the CFA program (Level III). He is associated with Nalanda Capital since its inception in May 2007. Before joining Nalanda, he was working on the buy side as a research analyst with an Indian institutional brokerage house.
  2. Ashish Patil: Ashish was with Merrill Lynch, Mumbai as Vice President – Investment Banking/Merger & Acquisition. Ashish has in total 12 years of experience in the field of investment banking, securities law counseling and compliance. Ashish completed his B.E. (Mechanical) from Government College of Engineering, Aurangabad and Master of Management Studies (Finance) from NMIMS. He also holds an LLB degree and is a qualified company secretary.
  3. A.N. Seshadri: Seshadri was in Warburg Pincus’ Singapore and India offices for almost 3 years until 2005 before he left to do his PhD in Finance at NYU. He left NYU in mid 2007 after completing his Masters to join Nalanda Capital as a Principal. Before Warburg Pincus, Seshadri was an investment banker with JP Morgan in Hong Kong. He was recruited at JP Morgan from IIM Ahmedabad in the year 2001. He is also a Chartered Accountant.
  4. Anand Sridharan: Until February 2007, Anand was the Director of Private Equity for Bessemer (a US based private equity firm) in India. Prior to joining Bessemer in 2005, he was with McKinsey & Company in India for about 4 years. He was hired by McKinsey from IIM Ahmedabad. Before IIM, Anand was in the US for two years working for Intel. He is a graduate of IIT Chennai and has completed his MS from UCLA.
  5. Mukund Dhondge:  Mukund was an Engagement Manager with McKinsey & Company in Mumbai. After joining McKinsey in 2005, Mukund worked primarily in the downstream petroleum and retail sectors in India and ASEAN countries. Mukund holds an engineering degree from BITS Pilani and an MBA from IIM Lucknow.