Milestone CEO passes away following freak accident

Ved Prakash Arya leaves behind a wife and two children. Peers are already paying tribute, one contemporary describing him as "a pioneer" and "an inspiration".

Ved Prakash Arya, managing director and chief executive officer of Milestone Capital Advisors, died this morning in Mumbai after an accident. In his early 40s, Arya leaves behind a wife and two children. He was famed for India real estate investing.

Arya is understood to have passed away this morning following a freak accident that sparked a series of cardiac arrests, finally leading to his passing.“This is too sudden. We are still letting it sink in,” a staff member at Milestone told PERE's sister publication, PE Asia.

Arya founded Milestone in 2006 to manage property investments for Indian and global investors. In recent years, however, the firm has undergone an aggressive expansion plan into the private equity space under his leadership. At this early stage, it is unclear if there is any succession plans at Milestone as the firm declined to comment further.

“Ved has been a great guy. Always positive and always smiling. He decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge a few years ago and proved to be very successful at it and has achieved what few could with the Milestone series of funds. He will be deeply missed by his friends and colleagues in the real estate industry. It has been a pleasure knowing him,” said Sachin Shah, founder and managing principal of private equity real estate firm Samsara Capital.

“In many ways he was the pioneer and led the way in building a meaningful alternative asset management company based on domestic capital. The manner in which he built the business in a short period of time was an inspiration for a lot of professionals who contemplate the jump from a professional to become an entrepreneur,” said S. Sriniwasan, CEO of another private equity real estate platform, Kotak Realty Funds.

“His modesty, honesty and down to approach to business made doing business with him a pleasure. I think we have a lost bright star,” he added.

“It’s absolutely a tragic loss, not only for his family and friends, but also for the private equity world in India,” said Ramesh Venkat a friend of Arya’s and chief executive officer and managing director at Reliance Private Equity.

Prior to Milestone, Arya was chief operating officer and director of Pantaloon Retail (India) Limited, where he had been the driving force behind setting the group’s Real Estate Venture Funds, totaling $435 million. The funds launched 51 malls with more than 14 million sqft area across India.

Before that, he was chief executive officer of Globus Stores Private Limited, which he founded in 1998. Arya’s career in the property sector started with the Rajan Raheja Group, where he spent more than 10 years. He was also the founder and director of the Retailers Association of India.

The engineering graduate had an MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He had also spent one year in ESSEC in France doing research, and completed his Advanced Management Programme from Harvard Business School.

In April 2009, Milestone formed a 50-50 joint venture with Religare Venture Capital, the private equity arm of Indian financial services firm Religare Enterprises. The JV is currently in the market for a second fund with a target of $200 million, focusing on the sectors of education, healthcare, logistics, media, infrastructure ancillary and consumer.

Additional reporting by Jonathan Brasse