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Sequoia beats out 3i to land IndiaTimes

The Silicon Valley venture heavyweight has teamed up with Bangalore-based Westbridge Capital to acquire a 15 percent stake in the online portal of India’s largest publishing group.

Sequoia Capital and Bangalore-based WestBridge Capital Partners have teamed up to acquire a 15 percent stake in Internet portal IndiaTimes.com for $36 million (€30 million), according to a report in The Financial Times.

The sale values the portal at $240 million. IndiaTimes.com is part of Bennett Coleman, India’s largest publishing group and generated revenues of $27 million last year.

Sequoia and WestBridge beat off competition from a number of strategic buyers and also interest from global private equity firm 3i, which is looking to make its first investment in India having set up an office there in March.

Managing director Anil Ahuja, formerly head of India investments for JP Morgan, was appointed to head up 3i’s India team, which will focus on financial services and healthcare companies.

According to a report from the Indian Venture Capital Association, private equity investment in India was more than $1 billion in 2004, up from $700 million in 2003.

Other private equity firms are expanding their presence in the region – last month Texas Pacific Group announced it had hired Vivek Paul, former head of Banglaore-based Wipro Technologies, as a partner in the firm’s venture funds, focusing largely on the technology and life sciences sectors.

Also in June The Carlyle Group launched an Indian buyout team in Mumbai under the stewardship of former DSP Merrill Lynch investment banker Rajeev Gupta, who became managing director and head of Carlyle India. He was joined by director Raj Dugar, founding director of the Merlion India Fund, and senior associate Manoj Dengla.