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NEA expands in India * Norwest Ventures hires Motorola man * Partners Group opens in Australia * Liang joins Peacock Equity Fund * Squadron adds three * Wallace back to banking * Ex-Coca Cola man to lead $1bn India infrastructure effort * Mobius considers Iraq investments * Blackstone appoints adviser in Turkey * CDC posts record results as CEO urges caution

NEA expands in India
New Enterprise Associates, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm, has added two members to its Bangalore-based team. Amit Sharma and Jerry Rao will assume the role of venture advisors.

Sharma is currently an executive vice president at wireless communications company American Tower Corporation, prior to which he led Motorola's teams in India and Southeast Asia. Rao joined NEA in February. He is the founder and chairman of MphasiS, an Indian infotech company. He was earlier at Citigroup where held a variety of roles.

NEA vice president Ben Mathias said in a statement that the addition of Rao and Sharma to the Indian team underscores NEA's “commitment to financing and building thriving companies in India.”

The firm also has two Chinese offices in Beijing and Shanghai.

Norwest Ventures hires Motorola man
The Palo Alto venture firm has hired Mohan Kumar from communications company Motorola for a new office in India. The firm currently has an office in Mumbai and is opening a second in Bangalore, where Kumar will be based. He will focus on making technology investments in India.

At Motorola, Kumar was corporate vice president of Mobile Devices Software, where he was responsible for creating mobile platform middleware and other applications for mobile phones. Prior to Motorola, he was at electronics giant Texas Instruments where he helped set up a business unit in Bangalore. He has also been an angel investor helping companies in the area of mobile applications, content and solutions.

Norwest opened its Mumbai office last year and hired Niren Shah as managing director. It is likely to appoint one more partner in the country, a spokesman said.

Partners Group opens in Australia
The Swiss-based global alternatives manager has set up its third Asian office in Sydney. The firm has hired Martin Scott from Zurich Financial Services, where he was head of investment sales in Australia. Scott is joined by Mike Siebert, who has been at Partners' Singapore office since 2004.

The two will be responsible for the firm's investments and client relationships in the region and will report to Asia head Philipp Gysler and head of Asia markets Christoph Rubeli.

Rubeli said the two men will be joined by a third person in the second half of this year. The firm's other Asian offices are in Singapore and Tokyo and it is setting up another office in Beijing that is expected to begin operations in June.

Liang joins Peacock Equity Fund
GE Commercial Finance's media, communications and entertainment business has appointed Lauren Liang as executive director for the Peacock Equity Fund – Asia Pacific.

Liang will be based in Singapore and be responsible for making investments in Asian media companies, the firm said. She served as a director of business development at NBC Universal Local Media prior to joining the fund. She has held a number of positions at NBC Universal and GE Capital.

Thomas Byrne, managing director and group head of Peacock Equity Fund said that Liang's “extensive media experience will enable us to efficiently identify potential high-growth technology companies for the fund”.

The $250 million fund was established in 2007 as a joint venture between GE Commercial Finance and NBC Universal to invest globally in companies that are developing technologies, platforms or business models that are a strategic fit for NBC Universal.

Squadron adds three
Asian fund of funds manager Squadron Capital, which is poised to raise a new fund (see fund news p. 14), has hired three members for its investment team. The firm has appointed Anand Prasanna, Pratima Digvi and Young-ah Kim as associates. All three will be based in Hong Kong.

Prasanna joins Squadron from Sequoia Capital's Bangalore office, where he worked on investments in India. He was earlier a strategist at McKinsey, the global consulting firm. Digvi was formerly at Capvent's Bangalore office, prior to which she worked at India's ICICI Bank, while Kim was a capital markets manager at GE Corporate Finance in Seoul and worked at Siemens prior to that. She will source investment opportunities in Korea and China.

Squadron's investment team is now 10-strong.

Wallace back to banking
Sean Wallace, a senior managing director at Franklin Templeton's private equity arm Darby Overseas Investments, has left the firm.

Wallace was responsible for managing the Asian operations of Darby, including fundraising, building the private equity team in Asia and sourcing investment opportunities in the region. He joined Darby in April last year. The reasons for his departure are not known and Darby could not be reached for comment.

Wallace has now moved back into banking, joining Standard Chartered bank as group head of corporate finance.

Ex-Coca Cola man to lead $1bn India infrastructure effort
Former Coca-Cola India head Sanjiv Gupta will lead a $1 billion (€628 million) Indian infrastructure fund for Vision Global Investments, a management company established by Fursa Alternative Strategies, SREI Infrastructure Finance and Prima Donna Global Holdings. Following his chief executive role at Coca-Cola, Gupta was a managing director for Indivision Capital, a Future Group-promoted, consumer-centric private equity fund that invests in India. All three founders of Vision Global are committing capital to the fund, but Debesh Nanda, a managing director at Vision Global and head of its Bahrain operations, declined to disclose how much. Nanda is also a former director of financial strategy at Coca-Cola. Nanda said that the Vision Global Infrastructure Fund is a “multi-sector and multi-stage fund” that will invest in everything from power, telecom and oil and gas to roads, ports, railways, airports and logistics.

Mobius considers Iraq investments
Franklin Templeton Investments' emerging markets group may soon join a handful of firms making private equity investments in Iraq. “We are looking at private equity in Iraq and are meeting with representatives in Iraq,” emerging markets fund manager Mark Mobius told Reuters. Mobius directs the Templeton Emerging Markets Equity Group at Franklin Templeton Investments, the asset management arm of global investment management organisation Franklin Resources. The group primarily invests in China, Russia and India, said Mobius.“There are smaller companies in manufacturing, the services and food industries that are keen for investment,” said Mobius, who also noted that there is not sufficient liquidity in Iraq's stock market for listed equity investments. Mobius, who joined Templeton in 1987, currently oversees approximately $40 billion (€25 billion) and told Reuters that he is in the process of raising a $300 million emerging markets fund.

Blackstone appoints adviser in Turkey
The Blackstone Group, the listed global investment firm, has appointed Kemal Kaya as a senior adviser. Kaya will principally advise Blackstone on transactions in Turkey. Before joining Blackstone Kaya was chief executive of Yapi Kredi, a Turkish financial group. He led the acquisition of Yapi Kredi for Koç Financial Services, a financial company owned by Koç Holding, the Turkish conglomerate, in partnership with Unicredit, the European bank. To date this is the largest merger in the Turkish banking sector, where there has been a spate of consolidation in recent years. Before the merger of the two banks, Kaya was a general manager of Koç bank, the retail side of Koç Financial Services, and chief executive of Koç Financial Services. Kaya helped set up the strategic partnership between Unicredit and Koç, which has been in place since 2002.

CDC posts record results as CEO urges caution
CDC Group, the UK Government-backed private equity emerging markets fund of funds investor, has revealed record results for returns and fund commitments to emerging markets for the 12 months to 31 December 2007. The total return after tax increased by 79 percent to £672 million (€840 million; $1.3 billion); the proceeds were reinvested in new commitments in emerging economies. Richard Laing said: “First of all, [emerging markets GP] Actis' performance is very good. So we have been and remain quite happy to have that exposure – 62 percent of all our funds. We are perfectly relaxed. Look at what they have done for us.” He said the manager was likely to continue be a large part of CDC's programme. Laing is more concerned with the glut of managers in emerging markets: “Some of the very large global firms are looking at emerging markets and saying this is the place we need to be. They have not been there before and they are pricing transactions high. It's a worrying trend.” He said the number of domestic managers had also boomed.