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November 04, 2008

Blackstone COO on investing in India

The Economic Times has an interview with Hamilton James, President & COO of Blackstone.
Yes, valuations in India are down by almost two-thirds. Besides, many companies, which wanted to go public earlier can’t do that, as the stock market is down and many companies will have a hard time borrowing. So, this is a good opportunity for private equity (PE) companies like us for investments.

...We have a global fund of $20 billion and we invest across the world with that fund. We started in India three years ago with an investment of $1-billion, spread over five years. We have already surpassed that investment by twice that much. The next six months give us a good investment window. But there are concerns, as general elections are coming up. India has some geo-political issues with Pakistan. I think, India is on track of good economic growth with a burgeoning middle class. We are here for long term.

...In the real estate sector, a huge amount of supply is now coming in the market and inventories will now go up. It will be hard for developers to get money. Prices in real estate will fall more before they become attractive to us. Media is another sector which we like, especially the local language newspapers which are growing. We are also looking at infrastructure sectors like ports, nuclear plants, healthcare. The companies providing affordable and high-quality healthcare could be a good area for investment. We are looking at a number of energy related deals to help India to become energy independent. That could be power, oil and gas, drilling, transportation. All parts of energy chain are quite interesting for us.

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. Email the author at arun@ventureintelligence.in