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Soma Networks secures an additional finance of $51-mn

Mobile WiMax products and professional services provider Soma Networks on Friday said that it has secured an additional $51-million of equity financing. Investors include Daiwa Securities Group, Daiwa Securities SMBC Principal Investments Company, Ridgeway Capital Partners and India Knowledge Fund and SBICAPS, amongst others, a press release issued here stated. India Knowledge Fund is a private equity fund of Japan-based SBI Holdings Inc. The financing has been earmarked for continued expansion of international operations and deployments, including ongoing support of the industry's largest WiMax network with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL). Earlier this year, BSNL and Soma had announced an agreement to roll-out a mobile WiMax network across three of India's fastest-growing circles–Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa and Andhra Pradesh, the release said. […]

Rabobank launches $100 m PE fund

Dutch-based Rabobank on Friday announced the launch of a $100-million private equity fund that would target investment opportunities in food and agri-business sectors in India. This private equity fund — India Agri Business Fund — is an offshore fund based out of Mauritius, said Mr Rajesh Srivastava, Chairman and Managing Director, Rabo Equity Advisors, which will be the investment manager for the fund. Rabobank, which has sponsored the fund, would provide $25 million towards the fund. International Finance Corporation, FMO, a Dutch development bank, and DEG, member of the German KfW Group, will each invest $20 million, with the balance to be tied up with private investors. […]

VC funds registering as PMS

Venture capitalists have found new ways to side step stringent Sebi laws. If market sources are to be believed, VC funds are registering themselves as PMS (portfolio management service) providers — a step that will enable these fund-pools to invest across asset classes. A PMS fund manager said: “It is relatively easier to get approvals for PMS services than VC funds. With a PMS registration, these funds will be able to invest in listed and unlisted companies without really having to disclose much about their investments.” Violating relevant Sebi PMS rules, most of these funds are targeting live real estate projects, which are facing tough times as a result of lower sales and higher borrowing costs. […]

Bharti may be open to fresh talks with MTN

Reliance Communications (RCOM) and South Africa’s MTN on Friday announced that merger talks between the two telcos have ended. Anil Ambani-owned RCOM has become the second Indian telco in as many months to fail in pulling off a merger with MTN. Bharti Airtel and MTN were close to a merger in May but the Indian telco called off the talks after the two companies failed to agree on the corporate structure of the combined entity. “Owing to certain legal and regulatory issues, the parties are presently unable to conclude a transaction. Accordingly, it has been mutually decided to allow the exclusivity agreement to lapse,” Reliance Communications said in a statement. MTN too issued a similar statement to Johannesburg Stock Exchange News Service late Friday evening, adding: “Accordingly, it has been mutually decided to allow the exclusivity agreement to lapse and caution is no longer required to be exercised by shareholders when dealing in MTN securities.” […]

Mukesh done to Anil what Anil did to Sunil : ET

The twists in the MTN saga brought together three of India’s corporate czars, both the Ambanis and Sunil Mittal, and provided them a unique, if unwanted opportunity, to determine each other’s destiny. RCOM chairman Anil Ambani had pulled off a coup when he landed an agreement for exclusive talks with MTN within 24 hours of Bharti Airtel pulling out of negotiations with the South African telco in late May. Mr Ambani had seemed to have pulled the rug from under the feet of his arch rival Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal. But seven weeks down the line, it is another Ambani, older brother Mukesh, who seemed to have handed a second chance to Mr Mittal as Bharti looks to re-engage with MTN. The wheel seems to have come full circle from late May. Mukesh seems to have done to Anil what the latter did to Sunil earlier. Whether RCOM entered into negotiations with MTN once talks with Bharti had failed, or whether it was its eagerness to explore all options with MTN which resulted in the collapse of talks between the South African firm and Bharti, is a matter of conjecture. Yet some industry sources share the view that that it was Anil’s offer of a ‘better’ deal that led MTN to call off its proposed merger with Bharti after both companies had signed a term-sheet. […]

Market slump makes PE firms' exit difficult

The current downturn in the equity markets has made exits difficult for private equity (PE) players. While earlier, exits through IPO route were common due to a buoyant market, the current slowdown will make such exits a thing of the past. “The environment for exits is terrible,” says ChrysCapital senior managing director Ashish Dhawan. Most private equity firms invest in mid-cap companies, where liquidity has dried up, he explains. Numbers, too, point to a slowdown on exits through IPOs. Data from Venture Intelligence for the first half of 2008 suggest that PE players made six exits through IPOs. Last year, 16 exits took place via IPOs while the number for 2006 was 19. […]

Estee picks up 15% in Forest Essentials

The $7.6-bn Estee Lauder Group has acquired a minority stake in Delhi-based Forest Essentials, a fledgling ayurvedic skin, body and haircare product maker. This will help Estee Lauder strengthen its foothold in the expanding Indian beauty market. It will give Forest Essentials products access to the global markets. Though the company officials declined to divulge details, according to sources, almost 10-15% of equity has been offloaded. “India is a very important market for Estee Lauder and with this agreement we hope to expand our competitiveness in the natural products arena,” Estee Lauder senior vice-president (international business development) Daniel Rachmanis said. The world’s leading skincare product manufacturer will be bolstering Forest Essentials’ retail expansion and brand building in India, and also take it outside India. […]