Tata Capital hires Akhil Awasthi for private equity

Tata Capital, the investment bank set up by India's Tata Group in 2007, hires Akhil Awasthi from Baring to head private equity.

Tata Capital, the investment bank set up by leading Indian business family the Tatas, has poached Akhil Awasthi from Baring Private Equity Partners to lead its private equity business.

The Tatas launched Tata Capital in 2007 as a wholly owned subsidiary of group holding company Tata Sons. Tata Capital is a Reserve Bank of India-registered non-banking finance company (NBFC), which serves both companies and retail customers. The managing director, Praveen Kadle, was earlier chief financial officer of the Tatas' joint venture with International Business Machines (IBM) and has also worked with Tata Motors.

Tata Capital has been making a concerted effort to build up its investment bank. Last year it poached Niranjan from CLSA to head investment banking. In private equity the firm intends both to invest itself and to work with companies to raise private equity funding, said a source.

Awasthi will work with Ardashir Dubash and Bobby Pauly, who are principals in Tata Capital's private equity division. Dubash joined Tata Capital in December 2008 from Cleartrip. He has also worked with the Courage Capital hedge fund and with Credit Suisse. Pauly joined Tata Capital in 2007. He was earlier a strategy consultant at Tata Strategic Management Group.

Awasthi joins Tata Capital from Baring in India where he was a partner and a founding member. Baring India is a private equity firm that has operated in India since 1997. Awasthi led the pharmaceuticals, healthcare outsourcing and biotechnology practice for the financial sponsor. He was also the custodian of the investment process with responsibility for risk management and compliance.

Awasthi had 13 years of experience in asset management and corporate banking even before he joined Baring. He was a founding member of India's first private sector mutual fund, ITI Pioneer Asset Management, where he was responsible for research on the pharmaceutical, software and automobile sectors. Before he joined ITI, Awasthi worked at ANZ Grindlays Bank in corporate banking.

Baring said that Amit Chander will take over Awasthi's responsibilities at Baring India and lead the healthcare franchise within the firm. Chander currently heads investments in the healthcare and education industries at Baring.

Chander is a director on the board of Baring's investee company Sphaera Pharma, which is involved in integrated drug discovery and development. Baring invested $10 million in Sphaera last year. Before he joined Baring, Chander worked with consulting firm Accenture and Indian credit rating agency Crisil.

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