General Atlantic’s ex-MD Havaldar tipped to join Avatar Growth Capital

Havaldar played a key role in setting up General Atlantic Partners’ India operations in 2002


Avatar Growth Capital, a growth equity fund, was launched in May by Vishal Kamalnain, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs Group.
Avatar Growth Capital, a growth equity fund, was launched in May by Vishal Kamalnain, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs Group.

Mumbai: Abhay Havaldar, a former managing director at private equity (PE) fund General Atlantic Partners, may join Avatar Growth Capital Partners, a new India-focused PE fund, said two people familiar with the matter.

A veteran of India’s private equity business, Havaldar played a key role in setting up General Atlantic’s India operations in 2002.

Avatar Growth Capital, a growth equity fund, was launched in May by Vishal Kamalnain, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs Group, Mint reported in June.

One of the two persons said that Avatar is actually the brainchild of Bakshi and Havaldar.

The fund was launched by Bakshi and the understanding was that Abhay would join later, this person added, asking not to be identified.

Halavdar admits that he and Bakshi did “explore” the launch of “an India-focused fund”. However, he added that while he is “happy to work closely with the fund”, he hasn’t “made a decision on joining”.

Havaldar is currently an adviser to the boards of General Atlantic portfolio companies in India. A General Atlantic spokesperson declined to comment.

Havaldar would add a lot to any fund, the second person said, speaking on condition of anonymity. His experience, and his track record as someone who “reaped good returns as a fund manager” would give him an edge over others while raising funds, this person added.

Havaldar, who has been associated with the private equity space as an investor since 1996, set up General Atlantic’s India office in 2002. He led the firm’s $100 million investment to acquire a minority stake in Patni Computer Systems.

After serving 10 years as managing director at General Atlantic in India, Havaldar moved to the firm’s office in Singapore in 2012 as managing director.

In 2013, Havaldar was named advisory director, and asked to mentor General Atlantic’s portfolio companies in an advisory capacity.

Under his leadership, General Atlantic made investments in National Stock Exchange, Hexaware Technologies, Infotech Enterprises Ltd, IBS Software Services Pvt. Ltd, Genpact and Jubilant Organosys Ltd. He currently serves as a director on the board of the National Stock Exchange.

“Over the last two-three years, a number of GPs (general partners or fund managers) have branched out to raise funds on their own. From a LP (limited partners or investors in funds) perspective, while the franchise is important, confidence in the GP is an essential. LPs can at times agree better terms with the new GPs raising funds,” said Sanjeev Krishan, transactions services and private equity leader at PwC India.

“GPs could branch out for various reasons including terms of engagement, different investment focus, or simply to be their own masters,” he added.

Several PE veterans have left their highly paid positions as fund managers to launch India-focused PE funds.

Carlyle Group managing director Mahesh Parasuraman quit and joined hands with Sunil Vasudevan, a former partner of India Value Fund Advisors, to launch a growth capital investment firm, Amicus Capital, in March 2015. Heramb R. Hajarnavis, who leads the private equity practice at KKR & Co. LP in India, has quit to set up his own private equity firm.

GPs raised $4.3 billion during 2015 from domestic and offshore investors or limited partners, which is higher than the $3.6 billion raised in 2012, $3.4 billion in 2013 and $3.8 billion in 2014, according to data from VCCEdge. Since 2010, 115 India-dedicated funds have together raised $11.5 billion.

According to Bain & Co.’s India Private Equity Report 2016, general partners expect fund-raising to get slightly easier in 2016. Macroeconomic uncertainties and prior bad experiences as the biggest challenges, they say.

India saw record private equity investments of $22.4 billion in 2015, 31% higher than the previous peak of $17 billion in 2007, said another report by Bain. The 2015 number was also 48% higher than the $15.2 billion of PE investment in 2014.

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