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Aashish Bhinde to quit Avendus Capital

Under Aashish Bhinde, Avendus closed 60 transactions since 2011, raising over $3.5 billion

Aashish Bhinde is credited with making Avendus Capital the go-to investment bank for Indian consumer Internet start-ups. Photo: Bloomberg
Aashish Bhinde is credited with making Avendus Capital the go-to investment bank for Indian consumer Internet start-ups. Photo: Bloomberg

Mumbai: Aashish Bhinde, the rainmaker credited with making Avendus Capital the go-to investment bank for Indian consumer Internet start-ups, has decided to quit the firm and take a sabbatical. 

Bhinde has been heading the digital and technology division at Avendus. Under his watch, the team has closed 60 transactions since 2011, raising over $3.5 billion.

Gaurav Deepak, Avendus co-founder and managing director, will be taking charge of the vertical. Bhinde started the franchise in 2011 with a five-member team that has grown to 24. “We have built a strong team with deep experience in the space. And that is why we are not hiring anyone from outside to run the team. Gaurav will take over it, given that this is a very critical business for the firm. Karan Sharma and Pankaj Naik, the two directors, will run the day-to-day business,” Bhinde said in a phone interview.

The Times of India was the first to report about Bhinde’s departure on Wednesday. 

His decision to leave comes a year after KKR and Co. LP bought a 60% stake in the boutique investment banking firm for around $100-120 million.

Avendus Capital, founded by Deepak, Ranu Vohra and Kaushal Aggarwal in 1999, tapped a wave of venture capital interest in Internet firms in India to become the boutique investment bank of choice for start-ups.

Internet start-ups that Avendus has advised include classifieds firm Quikr, e-commerce firm Shopclues, payments service Freecharge, music streaming firm Saavn, movie and events ticketing website BookMyShow, auto classifieds site CarTrade, eyewear store Lenskart, jewellery retailer Bluestone and e-commerce logistics provider Delhivery.

In November 2015, Bloomberg reported Avendus was at the top of the league table for its advisory on Internet and e-commerce deals in India, beating Deutsche Bank AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, among others. In July 2015, The Times of India reported Bhinde took home a little less than $2 million in total remuneration.

Bhinde hasn’t decided on his next step but will be with Avendus until March.

“Last fiscal (2015-16), we closed 16 transactions. In the past six months, we have already closed around 12 transactions. If things go according to plan, fiscal 2017 will be a much better year than the last one. We have a market share of 45-50% of the banked market i.e. transactions where bankers were involved,” said Bhinde.

Bhinde has over 20 years of experience across investment banking and private equity operations. Prior to joining Avendus, Bhinde headed the India office of VIEW Group, a Boston-based private equity fund.

He was also the chief operating officer of Peerless Audio that exported high-end audio products from India.

“Unlikely to do something in the financial services space. Because if I have to do something in this space, I know I will come back to Avendus to do it. I have spent 11 years with the group and it has been a fantastic relationship,” he said.

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In 2011, Avendus published a report which predicted that the Indian e-commerce business would grow from $6.3 billion that year to $24 billion by 2015.

“Happy that the digital opportunity in the country has played out to what we expected. When we came out with a report on the market opportunity in 2011, a lot of people raised questions on it,” Bhinde said.

The current size of the e-commerce market is estimated at over $20 billion.

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