Abraaj CEO: India more exciting than China

The Dubai-headquartered fund manager will significantly increase its investments in India shortly after absorbing emerging markets-focused Aureos Capital.

Abaaj Capital is bolstering its operations in India with a plan to increase fundraising, investments and exits in 2012, according to the firm.

The firm is in the process of completing two or three deals in the country, according to Arif Naqvi, founder and chief executive. “We have about six investments in India and we are looking to ramp that up massively,” he said in an interview with Reuters. “India, to me, is a far more exciting market than China.”

Last year Abraaj opened its Mumbai office, moving four professionals from Dubai to work there. Now, the firm has 10 people on the ground in India, said Naqvi.

The India push emerged after Abraaj’s February acquisition of Aureos Capital, which had $482 million or 37 percent of total global funds under management located in Asia.

“People on the ground in India and the organic push [into Asia], have been bolstered with the Aureos acquisition,” Omar Lodhi chief executive of Abraaj Capital Asia told PE Asia. “Pre-Aureos we had five people in Singapore, four people in India. Now on a combined basis we have 40-plus people in Southeast Asia and India.”

Abraaj is also bullish about opportunity in Southeast Asia. Using the firm’s network of offices in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, it expects to source more deals. “We are looking at India and Southeast Asia with equal commitment and excitement,” said Lodhi.

The new joint firm has created “one firm, two platforms”, to work with the Aureos acquisition. Each will invest its own funds separately. The larger private equity deals will come from Abraaj’s fourth fund, which is investing on a pan-regional basis.

Aureos has dedicated regional funds and also an India-focused fund, which is now fully deployed, according to sources.