Advent-backed ASK Group is working on a $250 million IPO

Mumbai: ASK Group, an investment and wealth management business house backed by private equity firm Advent International, has started work on an initial public offering (IPO) of around $200-250 million, two people aware of the development said.

ASK Group provides products and services in wealth and investment management, catering to affluent families. The group was started in 1983 by Asit Koticha and Sameer Koticha. The group also operates businesses in real estate investment and private equity.

“ASK has appointed investment bank JM Financial and work on the IPO has been on for last one month to one-and-a-half months. The company plans to raise around $200-250 million through the IPO, which will see Advent dilute part of its stake. The final size of the IPO will be dependent on quantum of stake Advent eventually decides to sell,” said one of the persons cited above, seeking anonymity as he is not authorized to speak with the media.

Advent had acquired a 40% stake in the firm in 2016 for $130 million. According to filings with the registrar of companies (RoC), Advent International held a 49.6% stake in the group as of 31 March 2017.

“While a significant part of the IPO will be secondary share sale, the firm will also raise some primary capital to be used for growing existing business, enter new lines of business organically or inorganically,” said the second person cited above, also seeking anonymity.

Emails sent to ASK Group managing director and chief executive officer Sunil Rohokale did not elicit any response. Emails sent to Advent International and JM Financial, too, went unanswered.

ASK Group reported a consolidated revenue of Rs323.16 crore in 2016-17 against Rs219.1 crore in the previous fiscal, filings with RoC show. In 2016-17, it reported a profit of Rs57.13 crore against a profit of Rs28.57 crore in the previous fiscal.

ASK Group, which started out with stock broking services in 1983, branched out into wealth management in 2007 with ASK Wealth Advisors. In 2009, the group started its real estate private equity business under ASK Property Investment Advisors. In 2011, it formed a private equity joint venture—ASK Pravi—with Pravi Capital.

The group today has 10 offices in India, one in Dubai, which manages clients in Gulf countries and Africa, and one in Singapore, responsible for real estate and equity investments made in India.

As of September 2017, ASK group managed assets worth approximately Rs37,311 crore (approximately $5.8 billion).

With its plans to go public, ASK Group joins a long list of financial services companies that are looking to tap the public markets to raise funds and provide exit routes to their private equity investors.

Financial services companies that are working towards their IPO include IndoStar Capital Finance Ltd, microfinance lender Spandana Sphoorty Financial Ltd, Standard Chartered PE backed Northern Arc Capital, CreditAccess Grameen Ltd, Arohan Financial Services Ltd and Muthoot Microfin Ltd, housing finance company Aavas Financiers Ltd, the mutual fund business of HDFC Group HDFC Asset Management Co. Ltd and several others.

So far this year, 14 companies have raised Rs18,591.7 crore through the IPO route, while in 2017, 36 companies raised Rs67,147.1 crore through IPOs, data from primary market tracker Prime Database shows.livemint