Investcorp to boost technology and healthcare investments in India

Alternative asset manager has spent $300m over the past two years on the acquisition of 10 companies

Bahrain-listed Investcorp is bullish about India and plans to buy companies in technology, health care and financial services as part of its aggressive push in the country.

“Technology is an absolute important pillar of our investment thesis in India,” said Gaurav Sharma, head of private equity at Investcorp India.

Over the past two years, Investcorp has invested more than $300 million in Indian companies such as logistics start-up Xpressbees, e-commerce platform FreshToHome and healthcare company NephroPlus.

India, whose economy is expected to be the world’s fifth largest by 2025, continues to be an attractive market for investors, Mr Sharma said.

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries attracted a large pool of investment from around the world last year. Its digital and retail units won over investors such as Mubadala Investment Company, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, Facebook, Google, Intel Capital and KKR.

Investcorp said yesterday that it had invested in Unilog, a Bengaluru start-up that provides e-commerce solutions to small and medium enterprises in the US.

The deal is the company’s tenth in India.

“Unilog is a testament to the fact that we [are] actually able to execute on a deal through the Covid environment because of the fact that we have offices in India and the US,” said Mr Sharma.

“We could collaborate across New York, New Delhi and Mumbai offices in terms of consummating this transaction.”

E-commerce transactions have surged globally over the past year as consumers turned to online shopping amid Covid-19 movement restrictions that hastened the digitisation of companies.

Investcorp plans to fund the acquisition of new companies through its $150m India-focused fund and its own capital.

“We have the ability to do smaller transactions of [about] $15m through the Indian fund,” he said.

“In terms of the larger deals that we have been doing, Investcorp’s balance sheet and global pools of capital are always available on a case-by-case basis, which is what we have been doing, starting with Nephroplus, Zolo and FreshToHome.”

Investcorp invested in FreshToHome last month as part of a $121m funding round alongside other investors.

The Bengaluru start-up sells fresh fish, meat and vegetables to customers.

It sources the products directly from fishermen and farmers and has recorded a boom in business amid the pandemic.

Zolo, another start-up funded by the Bahraini company, provides long-term shared accommodation to young professionals and students within India.

Investcorp, which counts Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company as its biggest shareholder, had assets under management worth $32.2 billion as of June 30.

It will back “first-generation entrepreneurs who are passionate about creating products and services targeting the mass demographics of India”, said Mr Sharma.

“This is something that we really like and that is where we see the growth,” he said.

India’s economy is expected to expand by 7.9 per cent this year after shrinking by 9.9 per cent in 2020, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said in a report last month.

The International Monetary Fund forecast an economic growth rate of 8.8 per cent for the country this year.

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