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M&A banker Promeet Ghosh is Temasek India's new MD

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Veteran investment banker Promeet Ghosh, known for his headline grabbing marquee cement and industrial sector deals, has joined Singapore government’s sovereign fund, Temasek Holdings, as its new managing director in India. He will be the first MD level appointment for the fund in the country, after losing two top level executives in the recent past, which included its flamboyant former country head Manish Kejriwal.

Ghosh will be reporting to Singapore-based Rohit Sipahimalani, co-chief investment officer & head, India and co-head, Middle East at Temasek. Two months back, Lee Then Kiat, previously the president and chief executive of ST Telemedia, joined Temasek as president general counsel head, South East Asia and co-head, India.

Tan Yong Meng, spokesperson, Temasek Holdings confirmed the appointment.

In a career spanning close to two decades in investment banking and high stake mergers and acquisitions, 42-year-old Ghosh has been involved in most of the headline transactions and has worked closely with and Aditya Birla Group. Infact, on deal street many saw him as ‘a Birla house banker and key brain trust of most senior group executives’. From Hindalco’s buyout of Indal, to the massive cement restructuring to carve out Grasim from Larsen &Toubro, mergers and acquisitions and restructuring has been Ghosh’s speciality. He also helped Holcim to conclude the ACC and Gujarat Ambuja transactions.

An IIM-Calcutta alumni with an engineering background, Ghosh has spent 18 years as a core member of Hemendra Kothari’s DSP Merrill Lynch before moving to Bank of America and Merrill Lynch (BoAML) in 2009, following their global merger. He was also instrumental in taking Coal India public.

“It will be a good addition for Temasek. Promeet is a hardcore M&A dealmaker and that will come handy in a private equity firm. He’s a steady, mature person and goes deep into a sector to understand the nuances before concluding a transaction. Being a good leader, this is a good move for him as well. In PE, you need to have a good grasp over valuations, operational issues and Promeet is best suited to handle all that,” said Kothari on hearing about the appointment.

Last year, Ghosh had left BoAML along with another colleague Raj Kataria to float an entrepreneurial private equity and mergers and acquisitions advisory firm led by Rajeev Gupta, former India head of Carlyle India Advisors Pvt Ltd, who incidentally was also a senior colleague from DSP Merrill Lynch. But many suspect the current slowdown and muted deal making scenario as key triggers for his decision to move on.

“It’s something that always attracted him. He’s been involved in deals, M&As for long and they are all useful in a PE fund. So, when this opportunity came along in a great platform like Temasek, which also have a large India focus, he decided to take it up,” said a close friend who did not wish to be identified.

Temasek, which manages assets worth $150 billion in Asia, has a large exposure to India. It made one of the largest private equity investments in India by pumping in $2 billion in Bharti Airtel in 2007, to buy about five per cent stake in the company.

Temasek's other major investments in India include $330-million deal with Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra), $200 million in GMR Energy, $175 million in National Stock Exchange. It has also invested Rs 685 crore in Godrej Consumer Products Ltd in January. It also sold 1.4 per cent stake worth about Rs 1,500 crore in India's largest private sector lender ICICI Bank.

Last year, when Manish Kejriwal, then senior managing director at Temasek Holdings and head of India, Africa and Middle East, moved on to start his own PE fund, Kedaara Capital, the firm appointed Sipahimalani who was then the co-head India, to head India operations.

In February 2011, Padmanabh Sinha, another managing director at Temasek India, had quit to join Tata Capital Private Equity. But even after their departure, Temasek has remained active, closing deals with Reliance Industries and Godrej Consumer.

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