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July 30, 2007

Profile of CVC India

Economic Times has a profile of Citigroup PE's India head Ajay Relan and the firm's recent investments.
A majority of the 25 companies in its portfolio are small cap firms that are not based in the Mumbai, Delhi or other large industrial clusters. Last December, in a PE variant of the bottom-of-the-pyramid strategy, Relan invested $25 million investment in KS Oils, a mustard and rapeseed oil manufacturer based out of Morena in Madhya Pradesh.

...Having worked alongside the likes of Bill Comfort, the former chairman of CVCI and a Citigroup legend, Relan says he benefitted from watching the best in action. “The most important lessons of the PE business that I learnt from watching him was to be patient, and keep a relentless focus on good management,” he says.

Despite CVCI’s successes, Relan laments the fact that he missed the telecom bus in India. “In the late 1990s and early 2000s you needed something like $300 million to play alongside the Sunil Mittals. We never had that kind of money. It was an opportunity we failed to take advantage of,” he rues. But his hidden gems have more than made up for the miss.
Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.