Sequoia in a hurry to capitalize on India

Sequoia Capital’s new Indian affiliate is raising a $400 million fund, according to press reports in India.

Sandeep Singhal, managing director of Sequoia Capital India, talked about the fund-raising effort with the Business Standard of India and online Indian news service Daily News & Analysis (DNA). “We hope to close in the next two months and intend to invest this amount in Indian companies in the next three years,” Singhal told the Indian press.

Sequoia Capital India plans to make about 20 investments in the range of $10 million to $50 million over the next three years. It will do early stage and late stage deals, investing as little as $1 million, according to the press reports.

Singhal told reporters he and his partners are presently evaluating three or four companies in the infrastructure, retail and media space.

Singhal did not respond to an email query from VCJ.

Sequoia Capital India is a joint venture between Sequoia Capital and India’s Westbridge Capital. Neither firm has explained the financial terms behind the relationship.

Prior to its apparent merger with Sequoia, WestBridge raised two funds: WestBridge Ventures I, a $140 million vehicle raised in 2000, and WestBridge Ventures II, a $200 million fund raised in August 2005, according to Thomson Financial (publisher of VCJ).

It isn’t clear if the 2005 Westbridge fund has been fully invested. It is also unclear whether Sequoia Capital India will tap Westbridge LPs for the new fund or seek out new investors. LPs in the 2005 WestBridge fund included Princeton University, the University of Chicago, Morgan Stanley, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Procific.

In addition to Singhal, Sequoia Capital India’s managing directors are KP Balaraj, Sumir Chadha and Surendra Jain. Also on staff are Mohit Bhatnagar (operating partner), Ravi Shankar GV (associate) and Shailendra Singh (vice president).

Sequoia Capital India’s website shows that its partners have invested in 23 companies. The firm’s most recent investment was a $10 million Series B round on June 29 for AppLabs Technologies, which provides outsourced software testing and application development. The company is co-located in Philadelphia and Hyderabad, India. It previously raised $7 million from WestBridge in 2004.

Among the other Indian companies in the portfolio are Brainvisa Technologies, an e-learning content developer, Dr. Lal PathLabs, which provides diagnostics and pathology services, Royal Orchid Hotels, which operates four luxury hotels in India, and Travelguru, a travel website.

The India venture market has been active this year. Private equity investors poured $1.4 billion into 69 companies in the first quarter, which is more than three times the amount they invested during the same period in 2005, according to Venture Intelligence India. –Lawrence Aragon