The India head of Advent International believes in transforming companies where they invest.
Shweta Jalan, Managing Director of Advent International, a private equity (PE) firm, has been on her toes for the last 26 months. During this period, she was involved in making four investments - Ask Group, Dixcey, Quest and Crompton Greaves - and, more importantly, a successful exit. Advent sold its controlling stake in CARE Hospitals to Dubai-based Abraaj Capital for `1,300 crore, according to market grapevine, earning a two-fold return in four years.
Barring ASK, all Advent investments have led to the PE firm owning controlling stakes in investee companies. "We will, by and large, stick to our core philosophy of having controlling stakes. We are a transformational player. We are not just a commodity capital provider but participate in deals were we can influence the company's destiny. If we don't see ourselves bringing value to the table, we don't bid," says Jalan, who completed eight years with Advent International on September 1.
With a minimum investment of $100 million in a deal, Jalan is said to be a tough task master who gets things done and a tough negotiator who bargains hard for every penny paid. "Our focus has been on cost reduction, expansion of margins and management enhancement," she says.
Asit Koticha, Founder & Chairman of ASK Group, in which Advent owns 40 per cent, says, "She (Jalan) has a positive mind. Like many PE professionals, she never comes with preconceived notions and is open to ideas and views. But most important, she doesn't have a negative approach, and is not afraid to put forth her point of view. She gives a logical reasoning and puts things in the right perspective. Also, she is a team player and goes with what the team decides."
An MBA in finance, Jalan, who practices yoga to stay fit, had started her career with EY in Kolkata in 1999. After six months, she packed her bags for Mumbai and within a few months joined ICICI Venture, her first experience with venture capital and PE deal making. Thereafter, there was no going back for Jalan who, under the leadership of Renuka Ramnath, learned the tricks of the trade. She was part of the early team involved with mid-market buyout deals when buyouts were still unknown in India. She also met her husband, Apurva Mazumder, an investment banker, while negotiating a deal. They may have met at the negotiating table, but they don't discuss work at home, and wherever there is a conflict of interest, one of them opts out.
A mother of two daughters, Jalan feels deal making is a continuous learning process. With valuations high, perseverance and diligence have become critical for success, she says.