Carlyle appoints India co-MD amid drive to streamline operations

Vikram Narula, co-founder of the Indian mid-market firm True North Managers, has joined the Washington-headquartered private equity firm.

Carlyle Group has named Vikram Narula, co-founder of the Indian mid-market firm True North Managers, as co-managing director for its private equity operations in the country. Narula’s appointment comes after a series of executive departures from Carlyle’s India team.

Based in Mumbai, Narula will join Neeraj Bharadwaj as co-MD and lead the firm’s private equity investments in India, the firm said in a statement. He will work alongside a team of six investment professionals in Mumbai, according to the firm’s website. Prior to joining Carlyle, Narula was involved in transactions in consumer companies, retail firms, financial services and industrials at True North.

Carlyle has been streamlining its operations in India since last year, combining the buyout and growth capital teams as part of an effort to focus more on buyout transactions, media reports indicated. Buyouts is one of the key opportunities the firm is eyeing in the country, such as in large Indian conglomerates looking to sell non-core businesses or non-profitable ventures, Bhardwaj said in an interview in June with The Economic Times.

Some of the recent departures include Shankar Narayanan, former co-managing director and co-head of Asian growth capital, who left Carlyle in the first quarter of this year, and Devinjit Singh, ex-managing director, who quit in June.

Both Narayanan and Singh are said to be setting up their own private equity firms targeting India’s mid-market space, according to local media reports. Narayanan founded alternative investments platform Sanaka Group in February this year, targeting $300 million for its debut fund, while Singh continues to work with Carlyle as an investment consultant, according to their individual LinkedIn accounts. Singh is reportedly looking to raise between $200 million and $250 million for its first vehicle.

Carlyle declined to comment on the reasons for these departures.

India is a key strategic market for the firm in Asia, said Greg Zeluck, managing director and co-head of the Carlyle Asia buyout team in a statement. The firm’s favoured sectors are financial services, healthcare and consumer. Its current portfolio in India includes express delivery company Delhivery, diagnostics and laboratories chain Metropolis Healthcare and credit card issuer SBI Card.

Carlyle has $6.55 billion to deploy in Asia-Pacific, having raised its largest fund dedicated to Asia, Carlyle Asia Partners V, in June this year.