Bangalore: Nestled in a quiet South Bangalore suburb, the office of N.S. Raghavan, among the earliest early stage investors in the country, is bubbling with activity. The 67-year-old, one of the seven founders of Infosys Ltd, is formalizing the investment structure of his Nadathur Group, which will now have four segments.
Kick-starting the shift in momentum, the Nadathur Group’s Silver Needle Hospitality arm is preparing to launch an international $100 million resort and business hotel chain.
The Singapore-headquartered firm, has already acquired properties in Bali in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Bangalore. “We are looking at acquiring a hotel chain in Australia. We are in talks; it’s too early to say anything more about it,” Raghavan said in an interview.
The hospitality chain’s core markets will be India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, China and Cambodia, he said.
In addition to developing properties on its own, Silver Needle Hospitality is open to forming joint ventures under which it will hold management control for 15 years. It aims to have 10,000 rooms under management in five years.
Raghavan began early-stage investing in 2000 after retiring from Infosys as a joint managing director. He has been backing start-ups in an informal structure mostly without taking positions on the boards of portfolio firms.
The Nadathur Group has over the years quietly built a portfolio worth about $600 million across asset classes and investment life cycles— from angel and venture funds to private equity, public equity and debt. Raghavan has backed 30 start-ups, investing more than $70 million in technology, healthcare and life sciences companies.
But the group now feels the need for a more visible and organized approach. “We are realizing that having a brand and building credibility is important for this business,” Raghavan said.
In addition to the hospitality arm, the group will have a segment called Nadathur Estates Pvt. Ltd to back real estate projects, Lifespring Ventures to invest in healthcare and life sciences companies, and a yet unnamed arm to manage investments in clean energy and water firms.
Raghavan’s elder son Sriram manages the group’s life sciences arm and another son Anand handles the hospitality business out of Singapore.
“The family is very enterprising. The two brothers are ready to take up the challenge and get their hands dirty,” said a business consultant, requesting anonymity as he works with the firm as well as with its competitors. “They are ready to take the company to the next level.”
While the Nadathur Group’s incubation centre at the Bangalore campus of the Indian Institute of Management, called Nadathur S. Raghavan Center for Entrepreneurial Learning, will remain in its present form, Ojas Venture Partners, the early stage technology-focused venture capital firm Raghavan backs, may acquire new dimensions.
“Ojas may take a different avatar depending on what we want to do or avoid (in terms of sectors). We are currently discussing if we could increase the ticket size or look at slightly later stage deals,” Raghavan said.
Raghavan also has a family office called Ethos Advisors that invests in sectors such as education and consumer services, areas not backed by the group’s other investment arms.
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