Babcock & Brown poaches ABN AMRO India team

The Australian firm hires six professionals in India, including ABN AMRO's head of M&A, to kick-start its plans to become an active investor in infrastructure projects in the country.
Australian-headquartered investment and specialised fund and asset management group, Babcock & Brown, has added considerable firepower to its India efforts by poaching six professionals from ABN AMRO, including the new head of India operations, Manikkan Sangameswaran.

Babcock & Brown already has an office in Mumbai which was being staffed by someone on secondment from Sydney. The firmÆs India franchise will now be headed by Manikkan Sangameswaran, who comes on board as a managing director. Manikkan was an executive director at ABN AMRO and the head of the bankÆs India M&A business.

ABN AMRO has been performing well in M&A in India on the back of its earlier identification of the trend of Indian companies going global via outbound M&A. Manikkan has worked on a number of ground-breaking transactions in the past few years including the $14 billion acquisition by Tata Steel of Corus UK û IndiaÆs largest outbound M&A deal and leveraged financing to date.

Joining Manikkan is Ashish Gupta as an executive director, Kanishka Ghoshal and Nitin Bhatia as directors, Vivek Kalra and Anshu Jain as associates and one analyst. Gupta was a director at ABN AMRO corporate finance, based in Delhi and the rest also join from ABNÆs corporate finance team.

Manikkan will report to John Bowyer, managing director and head of infrastructure for the Asia-Pacific. Babcock & BrownÆs focus in the country will be on investing in infrastructure projects, initially out of a fund of $1 billion which has already been raised and of which about 40% is allocated for investing in India. But Babcock & Brown could also use the team on the ground and the enhanced focus to raise further India-dedicated money, say specialists, as IndiaÆs infrastructure deficit is huge and begging to be financed.

Babcock & Brown was founded in 1977 and has built up expertise in asset-based finance. It operates from 30 offices worldwide, with hub offices in Sydney, San Francisco, New York, Munich and London. Babcock & Brown's corporate headquarters are in Sydney.

Meanwhile, sources say, ABN AMRO has moved quickly to fill the gap created by the departure. The six who are leaving represent 40% of ABN's corporate finance team of 15 people. ABN has continued to build its pipeline of cross-border outbound M&A deals and wants to ensure that execution does not suffer. Sumit Ganguly who used to work with Manikkan will now head M&A for India and the other departures have been filled by a combination of transfers and secondments.
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