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How Kotak became a player in special situations

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Kotak Investment Advisors, the special situations arm of Kotak Mahindra, could have $9 billion under management by early next year. It is led by Srini Sriniwasan, who has applied skills learned at Goldman Sachs to develop the business to where it is today.

In 1995, Goldman Sachs and Kotak Mahindra announced a joint venture investment bank in India, Kotak Mahindra Capital.

A combination of two capable and smart organizations, it worked well enough for a while, buoyed by the opening of India’s stock markets to foreign investment two years beforehand. But eventually it ran its course when each side wished to go it alone in India. Kotak bought out Goldman’s stake in March 2006 for $70 million.

The JV these days is a 20-year-old footnote in the history of both institutions, but it has had a lasting impact – for one individual in particular.

Srini Sriniwasan served on that joint venture and learned a great deal in the process. When it wound down, he was keen to pursue some of what he had learned about investment banking, and specifically a Goldman hallmark: special situations.

The Goldman Special Situations Group had not formally coalesced, but it would go on to become one of the most intriguing pockets of financial services worldwide, an internal investment unit with expertise across a host of asset classes from credit and real estate to direct investment in mid-size companies. By the time it was opened to external money in 2019, it had about $30 billion in assets.

Some

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Asia editor Euromoney
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Chris Wright is Asia editor. He covers the Asia Pacific region and is based in Singapore. He has previously been Middle East editor of Euromoney, editor of Asiamoney, investment editor of the Australian Financial Review and a correspondent on emerging markets and sovereign wealth for numerous publications worldwide. He has also written two books.