Exclusive: Investment veteran Rajendra Pai joins PE firm Navis as partner

Rajendra Pai at the ASIA PE-VC Summit 2016 in Singapore. Photo: DEALSTREETASIA

Southeast Asia investment veteran Rajendra Pai has joined Asia-focused private equity firm Navis Capital Partners as a partner, a move that he claims is in line with the current efforts by Navis to keep up with the growth in investment opportunities in the region.

Pai, a former long-time executive at Itochu Corporation and a former Managing Director and CEO at New Hope Investment Holding, joined the firm this month and will be responsible for augmenting the deal sourcing ability for the firm in Asia, he confirmed to DEALSTREETASIA on Tuesday.

“The deal-flow (for Navis) is fantastic and the partners are extremely busy. I am here to add to the firepower so we can continue doing what we are doing,” Pai said over the phone. He further added that there is an overlap in term of sectors and geographies that Navis focuses on and the work he has done in the past in the region — mainly Southeast Asia and cross-border China.

As an investor with a large presence in Southeast Asia and Australia, Navis counts among its portfolio firms food processing, fast food/casual dining, industrial products, fast moving consumer goods, outdoor advertising, auto rentals, consultancy and professional services businesses.

The Malaysia-headquartered PE firm is expected to raise its eighth fund this year, a vehicle likely to be significantly larger than its current $1.5-billion 2013-vintage Navis VII. Pai declined to comment on the exact size of the fund which many claim could be somewhere close to $2 billion. Navis VIII is also learnt to be planning smaller investments of under $50 million to make inroads into the region.

Meanwhile, the firm recently made the first exit from its current fund, Navis VII, with the sale of Singapore-based printed circuits board solution provider MFS Technology to Hong Kong-based DCP Capital Partners.

Commenting on the latest role, Pai noted, “This (Navis) is as best a franchise as you can get in this part of the world. The platform has been built over 20 years and it is extremely successful on the back of its unique approach – part equity owner, part consultant – where a strong rapport with the management, guiding them and empowering them strategically is the foundation of our engagement model.”

The attraction was also to be able to join an investment platform that is firing on all engines, is very focused and does not get distracted quite easily from what the mandate is and what it is good at.”

Pai, a London Business School alumni, worked with Itochu in New York and later in Asia. Based in Singapore, he focused on buyouts and growth capital for the company in the region. His last role, before Navis, was as at New Hope Investment Holding where he spent a year and focused on Food and Agriculture, Financial services, FinTech, Healthcare, FMCG, TMT, RE.

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