KPMG hires ‘bold’ dealmaker to tap M&A rush

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In an unusual move, KPMG is hiring a top investment banker to step up presence in the bulge bracket M&A deals taking off in India. The global audit, tax and advisory firm is set to name Srinivas Balasubramaniam as senior partner and head of corporate finance beginning next month, people directly aware of the matter said.

The former UBS and Goldman Sachs banker — known for originating some of Indian Inc’s biggest deal talks in recent years — would lead KPMG’s more than 100-member advisory team. The onboarding of Balasubramaniam, called by his shortened first name Srini on the dealstreet, is expected to help KPMG find a seat in the big merger discussions gaining momentum in Asia’s third-largest economy.

KPMG’s corporate finance practice is focused on small and mid-cap companies currently. For instance, it advised on South Korean major Lotte’s acquisition of Havmor ice cream in November last year for Rs 1,020 crore. KPMG declined to comment. Text messages and calls to Balasubramaniam over the weekend went unanswered.

Srini, one of the few dealmakers, lauded by industrialists like Ajay Piramal and Analjit Singh, was the main architect behind last year’s proposed merger of Max with HDFC Life to create India’s largest private life insurer and the ill-fated move to combine IDFC with Shriram Group.

Some of Srini’s deals include Piramal’s Rs 5,000-crore investment into Shriram and Blackstone’s acquisition of DLF business parks. He is credited with “bold deal origination” even as the country’s top industrialists, riding on buoyant stock markets, are striking deals for inorganic growth steering away greenfield expansion espoused by them in the past.

Bloomberg data said Indian M&A activity surged 53% to touch $77 billion in 2017. Top five deals, which included Vodafone and Idea Cellular merger, accounted for more than half of the overall deal value, signalling that large multi-billion transactions were coming of age in a market where dealmakers have had a roller coaster in recent past.economictimes