Contact us

D E Shaw plans $200-mn education blitzkrieg

D E Shaw, a global private equity firm with $36 billion in assets, is understood to be planning around $200 million investment in the Indian education sector by taking up strategic positions in companies offering e-learning, distant learning, vocational training and the like. The PE major is upbeat on the sector following the ministry of education's estimate that the country needs to build close too 200,000 new K-12 (kindergarten to senior secondary) schools. According to industry sources, the infrastructure must be set up within five years to provide education for predicted growth in student numbers and also the over 100 million children who are out of school. The government has called on the private sector to help fill this demand-supply gap. “However, one of the principal supply side constraints for private schools is the access of educational infrastructure required for a new school and companies such as Educomp intends to target this gap,” an industry source said. The spokesperson for D E Shaw could not be reached for comments. D E Shaw is expected to leverage one of its portfolio firms, Excelsoft, as a vehicle for acquisitions in this sector in addition to making direct PE investments. […]

VenturEast invested in Itero Pharma

Itero announced that it has secured a $21 million Series A venture financing commitment. SV Life Sciences, the company's largest shareholder, and Panorama Capital led the financing with additional participation from VenturEast. The proceeds will be used to fund the initial development of Itero's therapeutic protein pipeline.Itero Biopharmaceuticals, a San Mateo, CA based biopharmaceutical company, is focused on developing value-added follow-on and novel therapeutic proteins and antibodies. Bobba Venkatadri, General Partner from VenturEast commented, “We are pleased to be participating in Itero's Series A financing. VenturEast has a long history of investing in early stage opportunities in India, and we look forward to supporting Itero's management team with the experience base that we have established.” […]

Merrill, Lehman among four firms in race for VMIL stake

US-based Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Kishore Biyani's Indivision and Standard Chartered Private Equity are in the race to buy a minority stake for $40 million (around Rs 170 crore ) in Neeraj Roy and billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-promoted Virtual Marketing India (VMIL). VMIL officials declined to comment on the development. According to sources close to the development, VMIL will sell stake to raise money for expanding Hungama, the content and mobile services arm. The Mumbai-based company has already held two to three rounds of meetings with these private equity investors. The company's valuation has been pegged at Rs 800 crore. The funds raised would be used for Hungama's expansion. The company plans to expand to 70 countries by the end of this year from the current figure of 30. Apart from the promoters, Anil Ambani-promoted Reliance Capital also holds a minority stake in the company. Hungama recently announced three key senior appointments to strengthen its business operations in South Asia. […]

Sequoia Capital invests Rs 30 cr in SatNav Tech

Hyderabad-based IT products company SatNav Technologies has recently attracted investment of $7 million (approximately Rs 29.96 crore) from one of the leading venture capital players Sequoia Capital. The investment will be used to enhance the product portfolio of SatNav besides boost the depth of the company’s map content which is the backbone of all its products. Speaking at a press conference here on Thursday, Amit Prasad, founder and managing director of SatNav said, SatGuide is a famous navigation solution. It is today available on Windows OS mobiles, PDAs, PNDs (personal navigation devices), laptop and desktop and on Non-Windows OS phones. “We want to launch the navigation solution on other platforms like Symbian, Linux, Palm, Blackberry etc. Also we are working on different modes of delivery like GPS, GSM, CDMA and GPRS”, he said. This investment from Sequoia should see the company through for the next 12-18 months. If there is any further need, the VC firm is committed to infuse more funds, he added. […]

IFGL acquires German major

IFGL Refractories Ltd, the SK Bajoria refractories maker, is acquiring a 96% stake in Hofmann Ceramic GmbH of Germany for around €7 million. The deal will also give IFGL control over Hofmann's subsidiaries in the UK and the Czech republic, apart from increasing its footprint abroad to six countries. The Hoffman entities reported a combined turnover of € 13.67 million in 2007-08. IFGL's stepdown subsidiary in the UK, Monocon International Refractories, which was acquired in 2006, will acquire the Hofmann stake. At present, it has plants in India, China, the UK, the US and Brazil making the special vessel- lining materials that can withstand temperatures of over 1500 degrees C involved in steelmaking. […]

Aegis to invest $100 mn, takes stake in search marketing firm

Aegis is acquiring an undisclosed majority stake for an undisclosed amount in search-marketing firm Communicate2, according to Stahle. The partnership enables Aegis to club communication services from its media specialist company (planning and buying) Carat with search marketing services and launch Isobar, the global firm’s digital services arm. Communicate2 may remain a separate brand under Isobar or merge in time with iProspect, Aegis’ global search marketing company which is part of Isobar, said Stahle. Communicate2’s founder and managing director Vivek Bhargava will continue to lead the company. Significantly, the entry of Isobar marks a breakthrough, in terms of expanding the India presence, for Aegis Media. Aegis Media has companies such as Carat and Synovate, which are already here, Isobar, which has now launched in India, and Posterscope (Aegis’ out of home specialist), which will launch here by the end of the year. Velocity, Aegis’ global sports marketing arm, will launch soon. And Vizeum (Aegis’ other media specialist brand) will launch only when Carat expands enough that there is room for another brand to handle conflicting business. […]

Acumen Fund invests Rs 4.5 cr in AyurVAID

Kochi-based Kerala First Health Services Pvt. Ltd, which runs the AyurVAID Hospitals, announced the infusion of equity investment of Rs. 4.5 crore by Acumen Fund, USA, a non-profit venture philanthropy fund that invests in social enterprises in South Asia and Africa. The two-year-old company has two hospitals, one in Kochi and another in Aluva that provides a mix of ayurvedic and modern allopathy treatment to provide relief to chronic ailments, ranging from diabetes to arthritis. AyurVAID plans to leverage the Acumen investment to expand its footprint and pioneer the development of a low-cost health care delivery system that focuses on preventive and curative care, Rajiv Vasudevan, Founder & CEO of AyurVAID said. Acumen’s initial equity investment will enable AyurVAID to open six more hospitals across the country in the next 12 months. AyurVAID has set itself the goal of 60% of its bed capacity for patients from the middle and lower socio-economic classes, he added. […]

M&As back on track, but PE firms turn coy

Three months after the global stock market crash, companies are back to striking merger and acquisition (M&A) deals, but private equity (PE) firms have clearly retreated into a shell. The data for May shows that while M&A volumes have pretty much clawed back to the monthly average for 2007, PE deals shrank to a 3-year low in May after hitting an all-time high of 60 transactions in January this year. There were a total of 48 M&As, with an average ticket size of $51 million, which were strategic in nature involving Indian firms either as an acquirer or the target as per the latest dealtracker by advisory firm Grant Thornton. This included 25 cross border deals, of which 17 were outbound worth $1.58 billion and 8 were inbound deals adding up to $630 million, besides 23 domestic deals with an announced value of $240 million. While there was no frenetic activity for strategic M&As, the month of May recorded the second-highest deal volume during the past five months, marginally below the 56 deals announced in January. The total number of M&A deals during the first five months of 2008 stands at 214 with an announced value of $13.19 billion. […]

PE funds lose big in listed companies

Volatile capital markets coupled with high valuations have resulted in almost 67% of the private investments in public enterprises (PIPE) deals in 2007 ending in the red. PIPE deals are investments made by private equity funds in publicly-listed companies, usually through preferential allotments. Industry experts maintain that sustained downtrend and uncertain market conditions of 2008 have pushed the overall till-date (as on June 10) return on PIPE deals of 2007 (on volume basis) to -5.81%. “This can largely be attributed to two things,” said Jagannadham Thunuguntla, equity head of NEXGEN Capitals. “One, entry valuations were on the higher side and two, under-performance of capital markets on the backdrop of fast changing global/Indian macro factors. Also let us keep in mind the fact that the investments happened at the fag end of a bull market and we are looking at valuations at what seems to be the beginning of the bear market,” he added. In contrast, a quick review suggests that IPOs/pre-IPOs of 2007 yielded positive returns as of June 10, on volume basis. It were pre-IPO investments that showed the best returns as compared to IPO and PIPEs. […]

Pfizer May Vie With Daiichi for Ranbaxy

Pfizer Inc., the world's largest drugmaker, may make a hostile bid for Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., countering an agreed takeover by Daiichi Sankyo Co., the Business Standard said, citing people familiar with the matter. Pfizer, based in New York, may offer to buy the 65 percent of Ranbaxy that's not held by the founding Singh family, the paper said. Daiichi Sankyo Co. agreed on June 11 to pay as much as $4.6 billion for Ranbaxy to enter the generic-drug market where sales are growing twice as fast as branded medicines. Pfizer's India unit and Daiichi declined to comment. A battle for Ranbaxy, India's biggest drugmaker, may bolster shares of a company that have lagged behind the benchmark index for the past three years. Ranbaxy has waged a costly legal battle with Pfizer in the U.S. and Europe over the right to sell cheap copies of blockbuster drugs led by cholesterol treatment Lipitor. […]