Australian firm Babcock sets its sights on India

Australian firm Babcock sets its sights on India
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First Published: Wed, Apr 30 2008. 12 11 AM IST

Expansion plans: The Sydney-based company buys property, energy and transport assets worldwide. It had raised $400 million in November for its Asian Infrastructure Fund to focus on countries including
Expansion plans: The Sydney-based company buys property, energy and transport assets worldwide. It had raised $400 million in November for its Asian Infrastructure Fund to focus on countries including
Updated: Wed, Apr 30 2008. 12 11 AM IST
Sydney/ Mumbai: Babcock and Brown Ltd, an Australian asset manager, hired eight investment bankers from ABN Amro Holding NV’s Indian operations to build its infrastructure business in the South Asian nation.
Sangameswaran Manikkan, who helped advise Tata Steel Ltd on its takeover of Corus Group Plc., will lead the team of Indian nationals to be based in Mumbai and New Delhi, Sydney-based Babcock said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange on Tuesday.
Expansion plans: The Sydney-based company buys property, energy and transport assets worldwide. It had raised $400 million in November for its Asian Infrastructure Fund to focus on countries including India. (Photo: Ian Waldie / Bloomberg)
Babcock and Brown, which buys property, energy and transport assets worldwide for its funds, will target some of the $320 billion (Rs12.8 trillion) in projects in India identified for development over the next five years, the company said.
“Babcock is smart enough to be looking for something far removed from what it’s already got, and India is one of the best emerging markets around,” said Tom Murphy, who oversees more than $1 billionin Asian assets for private clients at Deutsche Bank AG.
“The Indian market is uncorrelated to what’s going on elsewhere in the US and Europe, it’s extremely sophisticated, and it’s marching to its own tune.”
The growth in fund raisings and acquisitions in India has triggered a scramble for expertise, with firms including Citigroup Inc. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. vying for talent. Finance executives in India received the highest pay increases in Asia in 2007, CFO Asia magazine reported this month.
Frank Hancock, ABN Amro’s head of mergers and acquisitions and equities capital markets in New Delhi, said Manikkan was replaced by Sumit Ganguly, already a member of the team. Hancock said that replacements had also been found following the departures of Ashish Gupta, Kanishka Ghoshal, Nitin Bhatia, Vivek Kalra and Anshu Jain.
Manikkan also played a role in the Indian government’s state asset sales of New Delhi and Mumbai airports in 2006, with ABN Amro advising the government on the offerings for both hubs.
Tata Steel’s acquisition of Corus was India’s biggest overseas takeover.
Citigroup this month hired Nalin Nayyar from Lehman Brothers as managing director for investment banking.
Citigroup’s director of institutional equity sales in India, Rajesh Mayani, and former research head Ratnesh Kumar, quit in the last two months to join local firm Anand Rathi Securities Ltd.
Babcock and Brown raised $400 million in November for its Asian Infrastructure Fund, set up with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd to focus on countries including India. The fund has already bought a stake in Thailand’s Don Muang Tollway Plc.
The company managedassets totalling A$72 billion as of February, ranging fromaircraft, railroads and real estate to wind farms, according to its website.
Erica Borgelt, a Sydney-based spokeswoman for Babcock and Brown, said the company’s investments in India to date are “negligible.”
Brisa-Auto Estradas de Portugal SA, the country’s biggest highway operator, said on Monday that Babcock and Brown increased its stake in the company to 15%, becoming the second biggest shareholder.
This month Babcock and Brown helped in the recapitalization of Australian securities firm Tricom, which is struggling to repay debt after receiving margin calls. BLOOMBERG
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First Published: Wed, Apr 30 2008. 12 11 AM IST