Trump's aide Kenneth Juster as envoy is good news for Indian business

US President Donald Trump’s deputy assistant Kenneth Juster. Photo: Wikimedia
US President Donald Trump’s deputy assistant Kenneth Juster who has been appointed as the new American ambassador to India was at the helm at investment firm Warburg Pincus when it made several investments in India. Juster joined Warburg Pincus as the managing director in 2010 and quit the board of trustees of the investment firm in 2017 after being picked by Trump for a job in the President’s office.

Warburg Pincus has made investments worth several millions in 19 Indian companies till date. According to the firm, 17 of these were made after Juster came on board. The initial investments made by the company in India after Juster took over as managing director at Warburg Pincus focused on the marine logistics sector in India. In 2010, it invested in Chennai headquartered IMC Limited which provides liquid storage facilities at most of the ports in India.

The investment was reportedly close to $50 million. Thereafter in 2011, the Juster led firm made an investment in Continental Warehousing Corporation (Nhava Sheva). This company operates container terminal services at major Indian ports. The investment was reported to be around $100 million.

The very same year, it made an investment in Diligent Power Private Ltd, owned by the Dainik Bhaskar group. In 2012, the firm under Juster’s leadership invested in two other companies - online marketplace Quikr and retail lender Capital First. The investment in Quikr was estimated at $32 million meant for its core online classifieds business. Warburg Pincus is reported to have diluted its stake in Capital First in May 2017 by selling a quarter of its stake for $275 million.

In 2013, Warburg Pincus made an investment in CK Birla group’s Avtec for buying out another investor’s stake for an undisclosed amount. Avtec manufactures automobile components in India. The same year, it also invested in fashion apparel maker Biba. The investment in the Delhi based fashion retailer was reported to be worth $48.6 million at the time.

In 2014, the firm seemed to have further diversified its investment portfolio in India. It invested in online automobile marketplace CarTrade in addition to Kerala based jewelry house Kalyan Jewelers. It also invested in Laurus Labs, a generic drugs manufacturer based in Hyderabad. The very next year it made a foray into real estate by investing $284 million in Piramal Realty. This was reported to be the biggest private equity investment in Indian real estate at the time. As Juster entered the sixth year of his tenure, Warburg Pincus re-directed its attention to the logistics sector. In 2016, it invested in trucking company Rovio and supply chain company Stellar Value Chain Solutions.

Even though Juster left Warburg Pincus’ board in 2017 after being appointed deputy secretary to Trump, the private equity firm has continued to diversify its investment portfolio in India. In 2017, it claims to have invested in Ajay Bijli’s multiplex chain PVR Cinemas.

With Juster now the US ambassador, the months to come could signal whether he can translate his investment experience to fastrack American investment in India.

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