Birla group hires alternative asset heads

The financial services business of Aditya Birla Management hires teams for India private equity and real estate.

Aditya Birla Management, the financial services arm of India's Aditya Birla Group, is setting up private equity and real estate teams for its asset management and wealth management units.

Ajay Srinivasan, CEO of the financial unit in Mumbai, says because of the battering in Indian equities, now is an opportune time to promote diversified products to high-net-worth and international clients.

On the one hand, equities are a tough sell, and clients want liquidity, so private equity seems counterintuitive. But Srinivasan says now is the time to establish a track record, however. "We must be ready for when the tide turns."

Birla's asset management unit, Birla Sun Life Asset Management, is entering in the business of advising on real estate investments, with the expectation that international investors are going to regain their risk appetite within six-to-nine months, and that India will be high on their priority list, thanks to its economy clocking in a GDP growth rate of 7.1% in 2008.

It has recently hired Shashi Kumar as head of real estate. Kumar was a founding member and CIO at India Reit. He has completed an investment cycle of fund raising, deployment and exit in the real estate arena, and has managed both domestic and international portfolios.

The firm has also assembled a new private equity team and is looking to raise capital for its first fund from onshore and offshore family offices and institutional investors, says Srinivasan.

Bharat Banka has been appointed managing director and CEO of Aditya Birla Private Equity. He is a 16-year veteran in principal investing, M&A and capital markets and most recently served as head of group finance at Aditya Birla Group.

He will be supported by three specialists: Rahul Shah, director, who brings 20 years of experience in private equity and management consulting as a founding member of IL&FS Investment Managers; Shamik Moitra, principal and former partner with London-based corporate finance firm Europa Partners; and Mehul Maroo, principal and former associate partner at global management consultancy Kurt Salmon Associates, where he was part of its India private equity practice.

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