Gupta steps down as Blackstone India chairman

Two Mumbai-based senior managing directors will replace the firm's India private equity leader.

The Blackstone Group has appointed two new co-heads of India for its private equity operations as incumbent Akhil Gupta steps down, according to a company statement.

Two senior managing directors at the firm, Amit Dixit and Mathew Cyriac, will take over and jointly lead the firm’s private equity activities in the country.

Gupta, who currently serves as chairman and senior managing director of Blackstone in India, will continue with the firm as a non-executive chairman. He left the firm to pursue other interests including academics and philanthropy, according to the statement.

“We have built one of the strongest teams of investing and operating professionals in India, who will carry the momentum forward. I am delighted that, in my new stewardship role, I will continue to work with outstanding professionals of Blackstone, to be part of their continuing success,” Gupta commented.

Tony James, Blackstone president, added, “Blackstone is a force in Indian private equity thanks in large part to Akhil’s leadership. We appreciate his tremendous contribution to the firm as the head of our business in India, and we look forward to his continued involvement as chairman of Blackstone India. Akhil has built a terrific team and we are confident that Amit and Mathew will continue driving our performance in Indian private equity.”

Blackstone has continued to be active in India despite the country's difficult macroeconomic environment. The firm currently has 19 people in its private equity team in India, spread across investments and operations, with nine in its real estate team.

It has invested $1.7 billion of equity in 20 private equity transactions over the last eight years, according to the firm.

This July, the firm sealed a rare buyout deal in the country, entering into an agreement to acquire Indian auto parts maker Agile Electric Sub-Assembly and its listed subsidiary Igarashi Motors India for a combined deal value of $110 million, according to an earlier statement.

The intended transaction will see Blackstone take a 97.9 percent stake in Agile, consequently giving the firm a 62.8 percent stake in Igarashi.

Despite its success in India, the loss of Gupta means more turn-over for the private equity giant's Asia team, after two high-profile investment team members quit the firm in recent months.

Earlier in December, Australian media reported that Paul Costello, non-executive chairman of The Blackstone Group’s Australia and New Zealand operations, had resigned after only two years in the role. Costello joined the firm from Australian superannuation fund Future Fund in October 2011 to help grow Blackstone’s business in the Australasian region.

His departure followed that of Antony Leung, Blackstone's Greater China chairman and senior managing director, who resigned from the firm in November after seven years of service, according to an earlier statement. Leung plans to join Hong Kong-based real estate conglomerate Nan Fung Group, where his appointment as chief executive officer will be effective in February 2014.