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Helion closes second fund with backers from Asia, Europe

Helion closes second fund with backers from Asia, Europe
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First Published: Wed, Mar 12 2008. 01 33 AM IST

Updated: Wed, Mar 12 2008. 01 33 AM IST
Mumbai: Venture capital firmHelion Venture Partners has closed its second fund with a corpus of $210 million (Rs850.5 crore), 1.5 times more than its first fund of $140 million that has more than half been distributed among a dozen companies.
The Bangalore-based firm is the first among a growing bunch of venture capital (VC) firms in India that focus on early-stage businesses to raise a second fund in as many years. “We wanted to create an extra pool of capital to expand our focus beyond technology powered businesses,” said Kanwaljit Singh, the firm’s managing director.
Until now, Helion has invested primarily in companies running businesses in the Internet, wireless and outsourced services space, such as online travel company Makemytrip India Pvt. Ltd, online ad publishing network Komli Inc., voice short message service provider Kirusa Inc. and IT-enabled services firm Anantara Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
It will next also look at investments in consumer-oriented sectors such as retail and financial services.
Helion, which typically invests between $2 million and $10 million in a company, will continue to participate in early-stage deals, Singh said.
In addition to Helion’s existing limited partners (institutions which invest in private equity funds), who are mostly based in the US, the firm has been backed by new partners in Asia and Europe for its latest fund. The firm also says it wants to expand its reach into these geographies to help its portfolio companies, especially those in outsourced services that address these markets.
Helion is among the new breed of venture capital firms in India formed by partners with operational and entrepreneurial background—Singh earlier handled marketing at Intel Corp. and Unilever Plc., while his partners Ashish Gupta and Sanjeev Aggarwal had co-founded start-ups before. A fourth partner, Rahul Chandra, comes from a pure VC background.
The firm will not add any partners who can take board seats on its portfolio companies, but will hire a vice-president to help manage the additional capital, Singh said.
For now, it will continue to invest out of its first fund until it hits a “threshold between actual investments and reserves for future rounds in the existing portfolio of companies,” said Singh.
Its 12 deals so far have been struck rapidly in a span of 15 months since it set up in August 2006.
The last was a $5.1 million investment in e-learning services company Hurix Systems Pvt. Ltd in October 2007.
Helion’s peers such as NEA IndoUS Ventures and Nexus India Capital have struck nine and eight deals, respectively, in the country.
Bangalore-based Sequoia Capital India, which runs the largest early-stage VC fund in the country, has invested in five companies from the $300 million early-stage fund it raised in August last year.
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First Published: Wed, Mar 12 2008. 01 33 AM IST