‘Indian promoters, PE firms have come up the curve’

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on November 15, 2017

MANMOHAN TIWANA, MD & CEO, Wodehouse Capital Advisors

A mid-market focussed investment bank, Wodehouse Capital Advisors, typically does transactions of $15-150 million as the firm believes that’s the range where most of the deals happen. The sector-agnostic firm, which has a large cross-border presence, is the only Indian company in the World M&A Alliance. The firm, which currently runs 15-16 mandates, is also staffing up. In a tete-a-tete with BusinessLine, Wodehouse’s MD and CEO Manmohan Tiwana says the company is nearing closure of many deals. Excerpts:

You are a boutique firm now. What are your plans to scale up?

We would like to call ourself a boutique firm, but we are no longer one. Now we have a team of 20 people between Mumbai and Delhi, and are currently on a hiring mode. We’re also expanding to Dubai in the next seven-eight months, Bengaluru in this financial year itself, and post that to Singapore and, then to London. This is the immediate 18-month plan. The largest hiring we’re doing is in transaction advisory and consultancy services. At a senior level, we’re planning to hire at least six people.

When did you become a member of the World M&A Alliance and what are the benefits?

We became part of this alliance last year. In this connected world, this helps to expand our horizons and get better deals in terms of fit, price and valuation. So, when we run a mandate, we always keep an option open to chat with our overseas partners because they are doing exactly what we are doing in India.

So, we run a mandate both domestically and through our partners in global markets too. We are getting bigger mandates and better opportunities to close mandates because of this overseas network.

Why did you launch Wodehouse Investment Network (WIN) and how is your Multi Family Office (MFO) faring?

WIN is a network of over 250 individuals and single family offices looking at opportunities analysed by a credible company, but their ticket size and appetite are small. Every quarter we will do one WIN event in Mumbai and Delhi, wherein we will present an opportunity to a pre-invited list of audience. The list would not be more than 40-50. In MFO, currently we are only in an advisory capacity.

It’s slow and steady, by choice. I don’t want to cater to 60-70 very large clients but want to do 60 clients maximum with about ₹100-150 crore of investible surplus.

On the mandates you are working on... any closures coming up?

We’re currently running 15-16 mandates.

We have signed up a multi-billion dollar company in financial services and we got to do multiple acquisitions for them. This mandate is huge with deal sizes of about $20-50 million. We are in packaging, technology, education, edutech. Some of them are looking at growth capital, selling out, joint ventures and acquisitions. We are in multiple stages, another 40-45 days you’ll start hearing more about our closures.

Your take on M&A and PE scenario...

The M&A scenario in the last two years is far more exciting, with more deals happening than before. The M&A space is buzzing, mainly financial services, technology and co-working spaces.

On the PE front, Indian promoters and PE firms have come up the curve tremendously. So, there was a time, five-seven years ago where PE firms were little cagey about the promoters and promoters were cagey about the PE firms. However, today, by and large, promoters see PE as a partner, an avenue to reach the next set of numbers and the next set of targets.

PE firms just need to find promoters like them, and that’s where we as an investment bank come in.

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Published on November 15, 2017
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