IDFC builds fund of funds team

Veronica John-led IDFC Capital has set up shop in Singapore and made new hires as it prepares to raise a $500m emerging markets fund of funds.

IDFC Capital, a newly established subsidiary of India’s Infrastructure Development Finance Company, has set up its first office in Singapore and made new hires.

The emerging markets-focused fund of funds is led by Veronica John, who was formerly responsible for Asian funds investment at CDC Group and the Asian Development Bank. 

“Setting up a fund of funds allows IDFC to informally spread its tentacles across Asia and beyond,” John said. The firm's first fund will raise $500 million, and John said that depending on the progress made with fundraising, the firm will employ more directors and associates for the investment team.

 Melissa Brown

To date, it has hired Melissa Brown as a managing director and Brooke Whitaker as a director. John, Brown and Whitaker will form the core team on the fundraising side, and IDFC Capital will hire another managing director, John told sister publication PEI Asia.

Brown was previously executive director of the Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia, which provides research for financial institutions on sustainable investment issues in Asia. Before that, she worked at Citigroup/Salomon Smith Barney as a managing director and deputy head of Asian research.

Whitaker will join IDFC Capital at the end of November. He is the founder and managing director of Thumos Limited, a boutique advisory firm providing corporate finance and restructuring advisory services to private equity funds, financial institutions, real estate developers and governments in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Prior to that, he spent seven years at audit and advisory firm Andersen in various capacities.

Geoffery Burns, the founder and director of Barnellan Equity Advice, which provides advice primarily to fund

Brooke Whitaker

of funds investors in emerging markets, has been appointed as a senior advisor to IDFC Capital, John said. Burns will sit on the firm’s investment committee as well.

The firm’s first fund will primarily be Asia- focused with up to 80 percent of its capital committed to funds in the Asia region and the remainder to other emerging markets. “We don’t want to go too far-field. We’ll evolve as the markets evolve, but we’re comfortable with a 20 percent allocation as we have experience in other markets as well,” said John.

The fund is currently in the pre-marketing phase and fundraising will begin formally in January 2009. A first close of $200 million is being targeted by the end of March 2009 and IDFC will make a “substantial” commitment to the fund at its first close, John said.

IDFC Private Equity, another subsidiary of IDFC, currently manages $1.3 billion across three India-focused private equity infrastructure funds.