India: Aditya Birla, Varde to set up $1b JV to buy stressed assets

Kumar Mangalam Birla. Photo: Saanskrut Kumar/Mint

Varde Partners Inc. and Aditya Birla Capital Ltd. are creating a joint venture to invest as much as $1 billion in distressed assets in India, according to people familiar with the transaction, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

The US investment firm and Indian financial services provider, helmed by billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla, are expected to deploy this sum over three years, one of the people said. The venture, which will scout for deals of up to $100 million, may be announced as early as this week, the person said.

Varde, which manages $14 billion of assets, joins overseas investors from Blackstone Group LP to Oaktree Capital Group LLC drawn by the government’s efforts to resolve $210 billion in soured loans. The scramble among local lenders to sell assets intensified after the Reserve Bank of India last year forced around 40 large defaulters into bankruptcy courts and then set stringent deadlines for stressed accounts to be restructured or share the same fate.

An Aditya Birla group spokeswoman declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Varde in London didn’t immediately respond to emailed queries.

Varde’s Co-Chief Investment Officer Ilfryn Carstairs called the India distressed opportunity “enormous” and one of the biggest in the world, in a September 2017 interview. Carstairs said that he saw “systemic” opportunities in India, adding that its soured loans problems were comparable to Italy and Spain.

Aditya Birla Capital already has an asset reconstruction business focusing on bad loans to micro, small and medium firms. It may also set up an Alternative Investment Fund to buy financially-stressed firms that may be on the brink but haven’t defaulted, one of the people familiar said.

Bloomberg

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.