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Tata's US$ 300m venture fund plans to invest in startups

Times of India:  August 23, 2016

Mumbai/Bengaluru: Mumbai-bred Turakhia brothers turned billionaires as a group of Chinese investors acquired their ad tech startup Media.net for $900 million in cash, in what would be the third largest deal in the industry. The newly set up RNT Capital Advisers, a venture fund launched by Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata, will deploy $300 million across startups in India, Southeast Asia and the US. This comes at a time when traditional VCs and other deep-pocketed investors have become chary about the Indian tech ecosystem as the funding environment has sobered perceptibly over the past six months. Structured as an evergreen fund with an indefinite life, RNT Capital has University of California Investments (UC Investments) as its largest limited partner (LPs are individuals or institutions which are investors in funds).

The fund is learnt to have held discussions with mobile advertising platform InMobi and logistics startup Qikpod which counts Flipkart as an investor, along with two US-based companies for potential investments, sources close to the matter told TOI.

Headquartered jointly in Mumbai and Singapore, the fund will typically deploy $10-15 million of capital into companies and will back tech businesses. Mayank Singhal, who was until recently with the Singapore government's investment fund Temasek Holdings, would be leading the India invest ments while Mathias Imbach, who has been with RNT Associates since last year, will look to build the fund's presence in Southeast Asia.

Emailed questionnaires sent to Singhal at RNT Capital, InMobi and Ravi Gururaj, founder of Qikpod remained unanswered at the time of going to press.

"The financing round at InMobi is still to finalise but the other three investments are likely to close soon," a source said on the condition of anonymity .

Qikpod's founder Gururaj, who heads Nasscom's product council, roped in a set of financial and strategic investors last year, including the Taiwanese manufacturer of Apple iPhones, Foxconn, Silicon Valley venture fund Accel Partners, Flipkart and Delhivery .These investors had put $9 million into Qikpod, which is setting up a network of fully automated, self-serve lockers in residential complexes, office compounds, cafes and kirana stores across the country .

In February this year, UC Investments, which has $100 billion in management across endowment and pension funds, said it will invest in Indian enterprises as it tied up with RNT Associates, Tata's personal family office. At the time they did not specify there would be a dedicated fund established.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.