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July 12, 2009

Interview with Suresh Soni of GTI Group

Venture Intelligence recently spoke to Suresh Soni of GTI Group, an US-headquartered Private Equity firm. GTI plans to invest about $100 million in India over 3-5 years. The full version of the interview appears in our latest quarterly PE report.

Venture Intelligence: We understand that the GTI Group straddles both the VC and PE segments. Tell us more about the firm and how it is structured.

Suresh Soni:
GTI Group was started by our chairman Dr. Michael Shculhof after having spent 26 years with Sony. During the last three years he was the CEO of Sony-North America. He brought Sony into the music and movie business and is the first non-Japanese to be on the board of Sony. We’ve done about 25 transactions over the past 8-9 years. All of us have operating backgrounds – not only the partners but almost everyone who works here. We now have morphed into building platforms for creating billion-dollar companies. We want to create large companies both through organic growth and acquisitions.

VI: So, are you structured as a regular PE/VC fund with external capital?

No it’s a proprietary fund. In addition, we syndicate deals based on what is required for each opportunity. So far, we have syndicated over $250 million dollars over the last 7-8 years.

VI: Tell us more about the GTI Group’s plans for India?

We are interested in three areas - Aerospace and Aviation, Healthcare and Media.

On the aviation and aerospace side, we have made an investment in Air Works, which is India’s largest MRO business. Punj Lloyd and GTI invested about $10 million each in the company. We are in the process of starting a charter airline business called Imperial Jets, as a JV with Punj Loyd and a Lebanese company. We are also looking to set up an aircraft component manufacturing business.

In the healthcare segment, we have actually made a venture investment in a new business model, where we are creating day-care surgery centers. The first one just started in Bangalore and we hope to roll out another 25 centers in the next 6-12 months across five cities. The total investment in this project could be about $40-50 million in the next 3 years. We are also evaluating complementary investments in this space.

VI: Do you plan to raise an India-dedicated fund?

We are planning to raise an India dedicated fund next year after we have a partner on the ground full time. We plan to set up our first office in Bangalore soon.