Over the past few years, leveraged buyout firms have raised billions to invest in India, but to date, much of that money remains on the table, The Wall Street Journal reports.
What few deals have been struck are primarily minority interests in Indian companies. Last month, for instance, the Carlyle Group was only able to acquire a 5.6% stake in HDFC Bank—and, amazingly, that is the nation’s second-largest private equity deal to date. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts managed to acquire an 85% stable in Flextronics Software Systems last year.
So far this year, only 5.1% of the $3.49 billion that private equity firms have spent in India have gone toward buyouts, according to the Centre for Asia Private Equity Research. The rest has been used to buy publicly traded stocks or as seed money for start-ups.
The main reason private equity firms have been having such trouble is because most companies in India are family controlled. “Families are very aware of the growth opportunity they have,” said Ajay Relan, a partner at the private equity division of Citigroup, CVC International.
A second setback is the high prices that firms are now valued at, due to India’s booming stock market over the past two years.
“There aren’t that many large transactions in India, period,” said Ravi Adusumalli, head of India operations at private equity firm SAIF Partners.
Despite these setbacks, private equity firms maintain they are committed to India for the long haul, and they believe buyout opportunities will eventually present themselves.
“Given the large size of the Indian economy, the quality of companies and their high growth potential, private equity firms will have plenty of opportunities,” said Carlyle partner Rajeev Gupta.