Last fortnight, when talk of a new india-specific fund being raised by Baring Private Equity Partners (India) surfaced, it brought into focus the firm’s success and the man largely responsible for it, Managing Partner Rahul Bhasin. The fund, the third Indiaspecific fund and believed to be over half a billion dollars in size, is expected to double Baring’s investments in India. Though Bhasin is tight-lipped about the issue, the market murmurs have coincided with the recent visit to India by Baring’s investors for a meeting with the heads of the investee companies. Bhasin says it is a usual annual investor meet.The firm has investments in around 15 Indian companies at present, apart from its public investment portfolio. Bhasin, 43, who has led the Indian team for the last 10 years, is known for his conservative and cautious approach towards choosing opportunities. For instance, Baring in India has stayed clear of real estate. But it could equally be argued that Bhasin, an IIM-A graduate, is, in fact, quite aggressive in his investment philosophy. After all, Baring follows a model where substantial stakes are picked up in the investee companies and repeat funding is the norm. Think BFL; think Jyothy Laboratories.
“It is a track record we have built over many years. We really think of ourselves as partners in the businesses,” says Bhasin. And if the business model means spurning some easy deals, so be it. “It is not part of our mandate to chase market beta returns. We are paid to create alpha,” adds Bhasin. He believes that the impending downturn will test many private equity firms in India that have followed a passive investment philosophy. Usually in office by 7:00 a.m., Bhasin is surely in business for the long haul.
— Shalini S. Dagar