September 2007
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Usha Martin buys out UK BPO

Usha Martin Group, a $750 million conglomerate, has acquired UK-based outsourcer Converso Contact Centres for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition is aimed at spearheading the group's plans to accelerate its business process outsourcing (BPO) operations in India, South Africa and the UK. The investment is expected to create 1,400 new jobs in India and South Africa. Prashant Jhawar, vice chairman of the group said, “Our strategy is to continually develop and diversify our business operations globally and we see the BPO market as having high growth potential. To exploit this opportunity, we are investing in both new and existing international locations and plan to build facilities for a total of 2,000 contact centre seats globally – both on-shore and off-shore. This will meet the demands of major blue chip organisations and give them the choice of leveraging domestic and overseas BPO capabilities.” [...]

UniverCell in talks with private equity players

Mobile retailing company UniverCell Telecommunications (India) is in parleys with private equity players to partly offload the company’s equity to help propel its next phase of growth. The Founder, Sathish Babu, said: “They were engaged in talks with several equity players and expect to close a deal very shortly.” Speaking to Business Line after launching five stores in Hyderabad, Babu said that this move would eventually lead to the company coming up with a public offer in 2009-2010, offering exit route to private equity. He said: “The company, which has about fully owned 75 stores, plans to set up 25 more by the end of this month and take this number to 170 before the fiscal end. We are in an accelerated expansion phase.” (Sify) [...]

RTIL plans to sell equity stake

Reliance Telecommunications Infrastructure Limited (RTIL), the telecom infrastructure unit of Reliance Communications that manages the communication towers hived off by the parent, plans to invest Rs 8,000 crore by March 2008 and take its tower strength to 23,000 from the current 14,000. The company also has a target to erect 50,000 towers by 2010. RTIL also has plans to dilute equity in the company. “We are looking at the option of either an IPO or of selling an equity stake in a period of 6 months to one year,” says Gaurav Wahi, spokesman for Reliance Communications. A Reliance document, quoting some Mumbai brokerages analysts, sats RTIL’s equity valuation based on market value stands at Rs 27,000 crore, while the overall enterprise valuation based on assets stands at Rs 36,000 crore. Reliance officials say the equity valuation is based on a price of Rs. 135 per share of Reliance Communications, which has a market capitalisation of around Rs. 120,000 crore. [...]

PE fund-raising picking up tempo

India-dedicated private equity funds raised $663 million in the first six months of 2007, a long way from the $16 billion targeted for the full year, according to recent research released by the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association. The association, which represents 167 private equity firms with more than $400 billion in assets under management, expects at least $12-15 billion to be raised for Asia in the remaining six months of the year and sees India and China accounting for a lion’s share. Out of the $21.7 billion raised in the first half of 2007, Asia, including China and India, accounted for $11.6 billion. Last year, India alone raked in 15% or $2.88 billion of the $19.4 billion raised for Asia.Meanwhile, India-related fund-raising, post-June, has received a boost with the $1.25 billion ChrysCapital Investment Advisors-backed ChrysCapital Fund V announced in July. And a slew of $1 billion funds are expected to hit the market by the close of the year, though growth and early-stage deals will dominate investment themes. Overall, 107 funds focused on emerging markets—Asia, Europe, Latin America, West Asia and Africa—raised $21.5 billion during the period under review. About 162 funds raised $33.2 billion for these markets in all of 2006. The association does not include Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Afghanistan in its definition of Asia. [...]