Former BofAML executive Ambrish Singh joins Lone Star Funds to head India ops

US-based private equity and distressed assets investor Lone Star Funds, which manages more than $45 billion in assets, has appointed Ambrish Singh, former Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) executive, as the head of its India operations, said two people directly aware of the development, requesting anonymity.

According to the people, Singh will come on board as managing director and will be responsible for Lone Star’s investments across asset classes, including private equity, distressed debt and structured credit.

In his previous stint, Singh was the director of global credit and special situations group for India, South-East Asia and Australia at BofAML. He also held senior roles in Credit Suisse, Daiwa Securities Group Inc., ICICI Securities Ltd and Enam Holdings Pvt. Ltd.

Singh’s appointment comes at a time when Lone Star is planning to commit at least $1 billion in India across various strategies, said one of the people cited above. In April, Lone Star and RattanIndia Group had planned to invest ₹2,600 crore to set up a non-banking financial company, RattanIndia Finance, in an equal joint venture. RattanIndia Group chairman, Rajiv Rattan, is the chairman and chief executive of the NBFC.

Lone Star and Singh did not respond to requests for comment.

In 2017, Lone Star had formed a joint venture (JV) with Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS), committing up to $550 million, to buyout stressed assets in the infrastructure sector.

Mint had reported in November 2016 that Lone Star was looking to set up an asset reconstruction company in India, and had applied for a licence with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

“Lone Star’s JV with IL&FS did not take off primarily because of IL&FS’s internal issues, which are now out in the open,” said the first person, cited above.

Mint reported on 31 August that Lone Star, along with global infrastructure fund I Squared Capital, is looking to buy IL&FS’ stressed assets for up to $2 billion.

Established in 1995, Lone Star is a global investor in real estate, equity, credit and other financial assets. It invests on behalf of its limited partners, which include pension funds for the public sector and corporate employees and retirees. It has closed over 1,470 transactions with an aggregate purchase price of $197 billion.

According to its website, it seeks investment opportunities in markets that have suffered an economic and/or banking crisis, resulting in a dislocation in asset pricing and value opportunities.

It looks for markets where liquidity and financing are restricted, and balance sheets of financial institutions are under pressure.

It has so far raised 17 private equity funds with an aggregate capital commitment of over $70 billion.

The development underlines the growing interest of overseas private equity funds in India’s distressed assets space.

Those who have set up ARCs to warehouse bad loans include KKR and Co., Blackstone Group and Aion Capital LLC, besides a joint venture of Apollo Global Management and ICICI Venture.

Mint reported in June that Carlyle Group, which had so far only undertaken pure-play private equity investments, is now actively scouting for investment opportunities in India’s distressed assets space from its latest $6.55-billion Asia-focused buyout fund.

This article was first published on livemint.com