Warburg Pincus has hired Leo Puri from McKinsey to enhance the focus of the private equity firm on India.

Some of Warburg PincusÆ most lucrative Asia investments have been in India. The firmÆs returns from its investment in Sunil MittalÆs telco, Bharti (now Bharti Airtel), are widely regarded as unleashing a flood of private equity money into India, as other firms tried to emulate the Warburg Pincus experience. More recently, Warburg Pincus was an investor in WNS Holdings, IndiaÆs first business process outsourcing (BPO) company to be listed on the NYSE. It multiplied the value of its investment when WNS listed last year.

In late 2006, Pulak Prasad, Warburg Pincus managing director based in Mumbai announced he was resigning to pursue entrepreneurial ambitions. The move was seen as a significant loss for Warburg Pincus; Prasad had been associated with a number of the firmÆs large-ticket investments including Bharti and was very highly regarded. In hiring Puri, it seems Warburg Pincus is seeking to cement this gap.

Puri is a post-graduate in politics, philosophy and economics from Oxford University and was most recently a director of McKinseyÆs practice in India and a co-leader of the financial services practice in Asia for the consulting firm.

"India is a high priority market for our firm and his deep expertise in financial services and broad India experience will be of great value to our firm," says Charles Kaye, co-president of Warburg.

Puri is expected to be based in Mumbai after a stint with Warburg Pincus' offices in the US. In Mumbai, Rajesh Khanna is also a managing director with Warburg Pincus. Other than Mumbai, Warbug Pincus has Asia offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo.

Recently, Puri told a reporter in an interview that he felt the environment for private equity in India was far more benevolent and mature than elsewhere in Asia. His actions suggest he truly believes the opportunity in private equity in India is worth being a part of.