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Former Morgan Stanley India head Ramachandran's SPAC to tap diaspora in US

KludeIn 1 Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company, raised about $173 million in an initial public offering in January

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Morgan Stanley

Baiju Kalesh & Anto Antony | Bloomberg 

Narayan Ramachandran
“We are looking at companies which have a story connection to Indian diaspora,” said Ramachandran, chairman and chief executive officer of KludeIn, in an interview

A blank-check company backed by former India head Narayan Ramachandran has set its sights on acquiring a US software firm with links to the South Asian country.

KludeIn 1 Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company, raised about $173 million in an initial public offering in January. The Nasdaq-listed firm aims to combine with a software or technology-enabled business serving consumers or in the US, according to its IPO prospectus.

“We are looking at which have a story connection to Indian diaspora,” said Ramachandran, chairman and chief executive officer of KludeIn, in an interview. “It could be in the US run by Indians, or a US company with significant business in India or Indian entrepreneurs.”

KludeIn is aiming for a target with an enterprise value of $1.5 billion or more, he said, declining to specify which companies they are in discussions with.

Ramachandran’s company is one of the growing wave of SPACs appearing on US exc­hanges. There were 248 SPACs that debuted on US bourses last year, raising a record $83 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The blank-check companies are racing against time to identify targets they can acquire before their expiration dates arrive, typically between 18 and 24 months after their IPO.

Citadel Advisors and Empyrean Capital Partners have both invested in KludeIn, according to SEC filings. The SPAC aims to get a deal done in the next 18 months, Ramachandran said.

KludeIn’s team believes its network and connections to the Indian diaspora give it access to a great talent pool, the prospectus shows. About a third of all immigrant-founded companies in the US have Indian founders, a higher percentage than any other ethnicity, according to the prospectus, citing research from the Kauffman Foundation.

Ramachandran was until 2019 a general partner and vice chairman of L Catterton Asia, the Asian arm of the namesake consumer-focused buyout firm. Prior to that, he was the head of India at between 2006 and 2010. He is now a co-founder of InKlude Labs, a social enterprise incubator.

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First Published: Wed, February 03 2021. 21:42 IST
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