India sees PE exits worth $757 million in two months

Private equity players in India have offloaded stakes worth $757 million in the first two months of this year driven by a significant recovery in the stock markets and hopes of continuation of this trend

Private equity (PE) players in India have offloaded stakes worth $757 million in the first two months of this year driven by a significant recovery in the stock markets and hopes of continuation of this trend, believe experts.

According to VCCEdge, the financial research platform of VCCircle, January 2010 saw 13 exits worth $282 million, while February witnessed as many as 10 worth $475 million.

"PE funds are under pressure to make some exits before they set out to raise new funds. They will continue to use every opportunity available to exit as long as they see a good return," VCCEdge research director Rohit Madan told PTI.

On a similar note, Reliance Venture Asset Management chief executive Harshal J Shah said, "I think this year will see the opening of the floodgates for exits, though only for the highly qualified ones, and those which have been waiting patiently in the wings for a long time now."

Mr Shah further said that the companies which were waiting in the pipeline might hit the markets this year.

"As the foundation for a strong global recovery builds up, perhaps led by India and China, the performance of the markets this year for such initial public offerings (IPOs) will also portend or forecast how successful that trend will be into the next year and beyond," Mr Shah added.

According to SMC Capitals Equity Head Jagannadham Thunuguntla, "The strange part of the 2009 recovery was that it was very strong in the secondary markets. However, the same enthusiasm couldn't be seen in the primary markets, that is, IPOs. Hence, exits can definitely happen. Unless the enthusiasm returns in the primary markets, the PE/VC funds may find it difficult even to exit."

Some of the top private equity exits of this year include the $323-million exit by Siva Ventures from Aamby Valley Ltd and the $62-million exit by Nalanda Capital from Sun TV Network, the VCCEdge report said.

The PE exits were driven by the sharp rise in the Bombay Stock Exchange's benchmark index Sensex, which is currently hovering around the 17,000-level and is witnessing good participation both from domestic as well as foreign institutional investors.
 

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US woman turns 'Jihad Jane'; charged with terror plots

The arrest of the American woman comes in the backdrop of US ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson commenting that the Obama administration does not know how many Americans might have disappeared overseas to train with al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups

An American woman, operating online under the name 'Jihad Jane', was indicted on Wednesday for plotting to recruit jihadist fighters for executing terror attacks in South Asia and Europe, reports PTI. 

The middle-aged Pennsylvania resident Colleen R LaRose alias Fatima LaRose was arrested in October last year and charged with spending more than a year networking with would-be jihadists around the world.

She was charged on four counts—conspiracy to provide support to terrorists, a count to kill in a foreign country, indulging in identity thefts and making false statements. 

"The case demonstrates that terrorists are looking for Americans to join them in their cause and it shatters any lingering thoughts that one can spot a terrorist on an appearance," US attorney Michael Levy said in the 11-page indictment unsealed in Philadelphia. 

The charging of ‘Jihad Jane’ comes months after another Pakistani-American national David Coleman Headley was charged with plotting terrorist attacks in India and Denmark. 

Ms LaRose’s associate, said to be based in South Asia, was not named but identified in the court by his online identity ‘CC#3’. It was this individual, the court was told, who directed her to kill Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilk.

An al-Qaeda affiliated group has put a bounty of $100,000 on Mr Vilk's head for a blasphemous cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. 

Forty-seven-year-old Jihad Jane and David Headley were both arrested from the same place. The arrest of the blond all-American woman comes in the backdrop of US ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson commenting that the Obama administration does not know how many Americans might have disappeared overseas to train with al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups. 

The number is not thought to be large, but Ms Patterson said a “nightmare scenario” would unfold if people holding US passports receive terrorist training and then return legally to the US to commit acts of violence. The US justice department said that the five unindicted co-conspirators are from South Asia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and the United States. 

According to the indictment, Ms LaRose travelled to Europe and tracked the intended target online in an effort to complete her task. She even asked for resident status in Sweden. 

If convicted of the charges, Ms LaRose faces a potential sentence of life in prison and a $1 million fine. 

She was “desperate to do something” to help suffering Muslims, authorities said, adding that her case shows how terror groups are looking to recruit Americans to carry out their goals. 

A US department of justice spokesman wouldn't confirm if the case is related to a group of people arrested in Ireland earlier yesterday on suspicion of plotting against Mr Vilk.
 

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Siva Group buys 50% stake in Norwegian glacial water company

Isklar, which sells glacial natural mineral water, will soon launch its operations in other European countries and is also planning to launch its brands in India

Indian diversified conglomerate Siva Group on Wednesday said that it has bought a 50% stake in the Norway-based glacial water company Isklar for around $22 million, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Lotus Venture.

"This present acquisition reinforces the vision of Siva Group and we will look forward to expand operations of the brand in other international markets," Siva Group chief executive Vaidyanathan Srinivasan told PTI.

He said that Isklar was established as a joint venture between Sabco, a Middle East-based water bottler and Norwegian firm Jova Holdings.

After the transaction, Isklar would become a joint venture company with the Indian Siva Group's holding at 50%, with Sabco and Jova Holdings jointly commanding the remaining stake.

Isklar, which sells glacial natural mineral water, started its operations in the UK in 2008 and later forayed into Norway.

"Going forward, Isklar will soon launch its operations in other European countries such as Denmark and Spain," Mr Srinivisan said, adding that the company is also planning to launch Isklar brands in India.

Siva Group is a diversified $3 billion conglomerate with global operations in industries like telecom, project engineering, shipping and logistics and others.

 

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