Learning On the Job With LN Mittal

By Ishani Duttagupta , The Economic Times

Before he set up financial services analytics and research provider Copal Partners – Rishi Khosla managed the venture capital and private equity activities of Lakshmi N. Mittal, president and CEO of ArcelorMittal and his son Aditya Mittal. “In that role, I managed the private investments of both L.N. Mittal and Aditya Mittal. This was their private portfolio and family money and even in those days – back in the late 19990s, we were investing in a large number of India related companies including IndiaBulls, which they have continuously backed ever since. Those were exciting times for me and that was when I first decided to start my own company. After proving myself as an investor, I wanted to prove my mettle as an entrepreneur too,” says Mr Khosla, CEO of Copal Partners, which recently got a $11 million investment from Merrill Lynch. His 1999 tech vintage venture portfolio for the Mittals has realised a 6X capital return including two billion dollar enterprises – PayPal and IndiaBulls.

And even about his own career moves, he’s never been risk averse. “Moving from GE Capital, where I set up an early stage venture fund, to managing the Mittals’ investments too was a tough move because I was leaving behind a globally known financial giant,” says Mr Khosla who was first in the business development team at GE Cap and then got approval from GE chairman & CEO Jack Welch to set up the venture fund.

The entrepreneurial journey with Copal Partners started in 2002. “Both Joel Perlman, the co-founder and president of Copal, and me wanted to set up a highly intellectual and high-value operation. Outsourcing was definitely not what we had in mind and India was to be the core operations and not the back office for us,” says Mr Khosla. Today the five year old company has offices in London, New York, Gurgaon and Mauritius with expertise in investment banking, equity research, credit research and strategy consulting. It employs 550 people. “While about 50% of our business comes from the US, 40% is from UK and 10% from the rest of the world,” says Mr Khosla who lives in London himself but travels a lot to New York City and to India. “Before Copal, I managed technology investments and most of the travel was to Silicon Valley,” he says. A graduate in economics from the University College of London, Mr Khosla holds a Masters in accounting and finance from LSE and is a board member of TiE UK. “While in Silicon Valley, where the idea of TiE was born, the organisation has more representation from IT entrepreneurs, in London it’s not focussed on any specific industry. The Indian business community in London has done well in segments such as pharma and retail. TiE has helped us to adopt the concepts of angel investing and mentorship among Indian entrepreneurs in London,” says Mr Khosla. He’s now very excited about the Indian operations too.

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