Citigroup’s PE arm invests $138m in the UK arm of Indian travel group Cox & Kings

Indian travel and tours company Cox & Kings Ltd (BOM:533144) announced today that CVCI Private Equity, part of US financial services giant Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C), has agreed to pour about USD137.7m (EUR110.4m) into its British unit Prometheon Holdings (UK) Ltd.

The binding deal comes after the board of the Indian company approved in in May plans to raise further capital of up to USD140m through sale of Prometheon stock. Today, Cox & Kings said it will use the money mainly to retire some of the debt raised by Prometheon as part of its takeover of sector player Holidaybreak Plc in July 2011.

The newly-agreed transaction is subject to obtaining certain regulatory nods and on the fulfillment of customary conditions. Cox & Kings did not say when it expects to close it.

In June, the Economic Times quoted informed people as saying that the Indian company was holding talks with private equity funds like KKR & Co LP (NYSE:KKR), Bain Capital LLC, The Carlyle Group LP (NASDAQ:CG) and TPG Capital LP regarding the potential disposal of a minority stake in its British subsidiary. The newspaper’s list, however, did not include Citi’s venture capital arm.

Standard Chartered interested in buying Barclays Indian arm

Standard Chartered Bank India, a unit of British Standard Chartered Plc (LON:STAN), is leading a race to buy some INR25bn (USD438m/EUR351m) worth of retail operations of rival Barclays Plc (LON:BARC) in India, according to informed people cited today by the Economic Times.

An unnamed senior banker told the paper that Barclays is looking to exit the retail banking business and is selling its mortgage, personal loan and commercial banking assets, with some selected private and foreign banks looking at them.

Most foreign banks active in India have been facing pressure due to the economic decline derived from the credit crunch in 2008.

Barclays, which launched its consumer banking business in India in May 2007, was forced by non-performing loans to ease up on its expansion plans and reduce jobs in order to improve its performance in the country. The British bank cut 451 jobs in the year to March 2010, reducing its workforce in India to 1,083.

According to the Economic Times, Asia-focused Standard Chartered Bank wants to add Barclays’ Indian retail banking assets to its portfolio, after buying the rival’s credit card operations in December 2011.

An unnamed director of a consultancy firm which works with the two British banks told the paper that foreign banks in India had switched direction towards high-quality credit which produced increased income and stayed away from unsecured lending.

Standard Chartered Bank India has a portfolio including consumer, wholesale, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Islamic and private banking solutions.

The lender, former Chartered Bank, was founded in 1858 and is based in Mumbai.

Morgan Stanley unit invests in India’s Continuum Wind Energy

Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners, a unit of US investment banking major Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), has agreed to invest INR12bn (USD210m/EUR167m) in Continuum Wind Energy, acquiring a majority stake in the Indian wind power company, the Times of India reported today.

Arvind Bansal, the investment banker who co-founded Continuum and serves as its chief executive, confirmed the deal for the newspaper but would not comment on its financial parameters. The Times of India did not say where it got its information on the size of the investment. Continuum was advised by o3 Capital, the newspaper said, adding that the agreement was signed last week.

Continuum was set up three years ago by Bansal and Vikas Saraf, a director at Indian conglomerate Essar Group. The company was created through the acquisition of the Kutch power generation business of Danish-based wind power giant Vestas Wind Systems A/S (CPH:VWS). Continuum operates 36MW of wind power capacity in Kutch and Sangli and has reached the advanced stage of installing 183 MW, with another 300MW in the pipeline. As Bansal informed the Times of India, the investment from Morgan Stanley will allow Continuum to build large-scale, high-quality wind energy assets that will address the shortage of power in India.

While conventional power production has suffered from domestic coal shortage and costly imports, India’s wind power sector has seen its capacity grow by nearly 30% annually in the past decade. The country ranks at number five globally in terms of installed capacity, boasting around 16,000 MW, the newspaper added.

Indian outsourcing firm WNS acquires BGL’s South African unit

India-based business process outsourcing (BPO) firm WNS (Holdings) Ltd (NYSE:WNS) said on Thursday it had taken over South African peer Fusion Outsourcing Services (Pty) Ltd from a unit of British insurance broker BGL Group Ltd.

By establishing presence in South Africa, WNS addresses its objectives of extending its global delivery footprint and setting foot into emerging growth markets, its chief executive officer Keshav Murugesh commented.

As part of the transaction, WNS is paying GBP10m (USD15.7m/EUR12.4m), plus adjustments for cash and working capital, to BFSL Limited. It will provide the agreed consideration in tranches, with half of the sum on closing and the balance in several installments by 31 May 2013. The transaction will be funded from WNS’ existing cash resources.

WNS projects that this acquisition will add between USD9m (EUR7.1m) and USD10m of incremental revenue in fiscal 2013, based on Fusion’s existing book of business. It also expects the transaction to be neutral to its adjusted EPS in the same year and accretive in fiscal 2014.

Fusion, which has activities in Cape Town and Johannesburg, offers contact centre, customer care and business continuity services to local and international clients. The firm presently has a workforce of around 1,500.