Darius Pandole quits New Silk Route, to head JM Financial’s PE unit


Mumbai: Darius Pandole, partner at private equity (PE) fund New Silk Route (NSR), is moving to JM Financial Ltd to head its private equity unit, said two people aware of the development.

“He has already resigned from NSR and will be leaving the PE firm shortly. Darius will be heading the PE unit of JM, which is currently looking to raise a new fund,” said one of the people, both of whom requested anonymity.

Pandole declined to comment on the development. JM Financial also declined to comment.

The hiring comes at a time when JM Financial’s founder and one of India’s top investment bankers, Nimesh Kampani, decided to step down as managing director of the investment banking firm. Kampani will leave the post on 30 September, when he turns 70, though he who will continue as chairman, in a non-executive role.

JM Financial’s PE business, which had previously raised a Rs.1,000 crore fund in 2006, is planning to raise a second with a similar corpus, said the second person of the two people cited earlier.

The first fund was co-sponsored by Old Lane Partners, a hedge fund run by Vikram Pandit, which was acquired by Citigroup. Pandit, an Indian-born American banker, was the chief executive of Citigroup between 2007 and 2012.

Investments from the first fund were made in companies such as Mumbai-based pharmaceuticals firm DiagnoSearch Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd, salon chain Enrich, offshore logistics services firm Samson Maritime Ltd, farm equipment manufacturer International Tractors Ltd, auto components company Sona Group, knowledge process outsourcing firm Pre-Media Global and microfinance firm Spandana Sphoorty.

Pandole joined NSR at its inception in February 2007. It has $1.4 billion under management, mainly in India and emerging economies in Asia. It has 17 publicly disclosed investments.

He was previously with IDFC Private Equity Ltd, which he joined in February 2003, and went on to become its chief operating officer.

Both JM Financial and NSR are currently focusing on exiting investments from their first funds.

In an interview with Mint last year, Parag Saxena, founding general partner and chief executive officer at NSR, said that the firm is looking to return at least $500 million to investors before it looks to raise a second fund.

“We have returned $200 million to our investors this year. We are knocking on the door of 2016 and clearly we would like to liquefy these investments and realize them and that is certainly the biggest activity at NSR right now,” he said.

Three NSR portfolio firms went public last year, creating exit routes for the investor. The fund partially exited its investments in Ortel Communications Ltd and VRL Logistics Ltd through their initial public offerings (IPOs) last year. Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd was the third NSR portfolio firm to go public. NSR did not sell shares in the Coffee Day IPO.

On 16 July, Mint reported that NSR had sold its remaining 5.16% stake in VRL Logistics through a block trade on the stock exchanges for around Rs.147 crore.

NSR also exited from Augere Wireless Broadband India when Bharti Airtel bought a 74% stake in the firm in December 2015. In February last year, it sold a 49% stake in PNB Housing Finance, held by its subsidiary Destimoney Enterprises Pvt. Ltd, for an undisclosed amount.

NSR’s portfolio now includes 9X Media Private Ltd, Reliance Infratel Ltd—a subsidiary of Reliance Communications Ltd—Rolex Rings Pvt. Ltd, Kiran Energy Solar Power Pvt. Ltd, Ortel Communications, Nectar Lifesciences Ltd, Coffee Day Resorts Pvt. Ltd, KS Oils Ltd, Ascend Telecom Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd, Varsity Education Management Pvt. Ltd, Vasudev Adiga’s Fast Food Pvt. Ltd and South Asia Gastronomy Enterprises Llc.

The fund has not made any new investments since 2014. Its last deal in India was in September 2013, when it acquired Mumbai-based restaurant chain Moshe’s Fine Foods Pvt. Ltd for an undisclosed amount.

In the 2012-16 period, NSR made six investments, worth $113 million, and four exits, worth $66.5 million, according to data from investment tracker VCCEdge.

In Februrary 2014, JM Financial exited its investment in Samson Maritime in a fund-raising round in which Kotak Private Equity put in about Rs.150 crore.