Ontario Teachers’ sets up Mumbai office, names India head

 Ontario Teachers’ sets up Mumbai office, names India head

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board said on Tuesday it has opened a new office in Mumbai to build on its existing Indian portfolio and appointed Deepak Dara as Senior Managing Director and Head of India.

Dara will take on this role in early 2023. As Head of India, he will be responsible for accelerating investment activities and enhancing portfolio management in India, Ontario Teachers’ said in a statement.

The pension fund also said that Keki Mistry, Vice Chairman and CEO of Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited, has agreed to be a Senior Advisor to Ontario Teachers’.

In his global advisory role, Mistry is helping to further enhance Ontario Teachers’ market reach, providing access to a high-quality network and opportunities, and sharing guidance on market dynamics. He is not involved in the day-to-day operations of Ontario Teachers’ business, the fund said.

Dara will report to Ben Chan, Executive Managing Director and Head of Asia-Pacific. Chan manages all of Ontario Teachers’ activities in the region including oversight of its Hong Kong, Singapore and Mumbai offices.

Ontario Teachers’ said a local team and office will support the fund in sourcing investments, nurturing long-term partnerships, and attracting strong local talent. The Mumbai office is its sixth global office and third in the Asia-Pacific region.

“India is an attractive investment destination and will be one of our growth markets over the next 5-10 years.  It has a large, growing, and dynamic economy, with openness to foreign capital which makes it a strategically important market for us,” said Jo Taylor, President and CEO of Ontario Teachers’.

The fund said that the Mumbai office will target investments in India across all asset classes, including public and private equities, infrastructure, real estate, credit and venture and growth equity.

A founding team of approximately 10 team members will be based in the Mumbai office by the end of 2022, comprising a mix of local talent and transfers from its other offices. This presence is expected to scale further as Ontario Teachers’ investment portfolio grows in the coming years, the fund said.

Dara joined Ontario Teachers’ in 2020 as Chief of Staff to the Chief Investment Officer and has been instrumental in advancing many global and cross-asset class initiatives including the organization’s five-year investment strategy, India strategy and ambition on climate action. Prior to joining Ontario Teachers’ Dara was part of the leadership team of the Boston Consulting Group’s principal investor and private equity practice.

“The last 12 months saw a marked growth in our investment activities in India, and I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to further build out our presence, networks and capabilities in the country,” said Dara.

Ontario Teachers’ holds a portfolio of public and private assets totaling more than C$3 billion, or about Rs 18,374 crore, in India. Globally, it manages assets of over C$242.5 billion as on June 30.

The fund has stepped up its India bets in recent years. Earlier this month, OTPP signed binding agreements with the Mahindra Group to acquire a 30% equity stake in Mahindra Susten, a renewable energy business, at an equity value of Rs 2,371 crore. Over the next seven years, Ontario Teachers’ has committed to deploy an additional amount of up to Rs 3,550 crore into the business.

Its local portfolio includes Edelweiss Alternate Asset Advisors, in which it invested US$350 million, Sahyadri Hospitals and Dailyhunt parent VerSe Innovations. The pension fund invested into PE giant KKR’s India roads platform in April and acquired a 25% stake for Rs 1,500 crore in National Highways Infra Trust, an InvIT sponsored by the National Highways Authority of India, late last year.

OTPP has also invested in private equity funds ChrysCapital and Kedaara Capital as a limited partner, and committed $1 billion in the government-backed National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.

Sumit Upadhyaya

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