ASIA NEWS: Repeatedly not for sale

Few firms in Asia have had to deny they are for sale more times than Mumbai-based Indiareit Fund Advisors. Last month, the India-focused private equity real estate firm, with just shy of $1 billion in assets under management, was forced to state again that it is not for sale following the resignations of chief executive Ramesh Jogani and investments director Jasmeet Chabbra.

Having batted away previous claims by India’s business press that the Piramal Group-owned platform was to be sold, Jogani’s and Chabbra’s surprise resignations to “pursue other opportunities” prompted another round of stories. Consequently, entrepreneur and Indiareit owner Ajay Piramal needed to publically refute the claims once again.

In addition, Piramal has parachuted in Khushru Jijina, a long-time employee and managing director of one of his other real estate companies, Piramal Realty Private, to restore order as Jogani’s replacement. Jijina has taken over day-to-day charge of the 27-strong business as managing partner, even as a permanent CEO is sought.

Jijina told PERE: “As of now, we’ve looked at domestic players and already have held conversations with CEOs of large private equity real estate funds that are interested.” In the name of continuity, however, Jijina will retain an indefinite oversight role at Indiareit even when a new CEO is installed.

Meanwhile, Indiareit is working to address key-man events triggered across the firm’s five current real estate funds and two third-party mandates. “That process is well under way, with some already having been cured and others awaiting due process,” Jijina said.

One measure Jijina was keen to take was to pause Indiareit’s offshore fundraising efforts until a new CEO is installed. “We were preparing for a launch and had hired a placement agent,” noted Vaibhav Rekhi, senior partner at the firm. “We still intend to launch, but probably in about two quarter’s time.” 

By then, Rekhi expects Indiareit to have made headway on a targeted $175 million to $200 million of exits in the next 12 months to add to the $178.5 million of exits it already has achieved for its earlier vehicles. When the fund does come to market, Indiareit is expected to target $350 million. 

Meanwhile, Indiareit will plough on with its domestic funds after the firm’s Indian investors accepted Piramal’s assurances. Indeed, a domestic development fund of 500 crores already is being drawn up.