San Francisco-headquartered TPG Capital, one of the largest private equity (PE) firms, managing more than $120 billion in assets as of August, has been doubling down on investing in India after a cool-off period between 2012-2014.
“It’s time to lean in,” Coulter, 62, said in a wide-ranging interview in which he drew parallels with literary classics such as Wizard of Oz and Ulysses, and even Harry Potter, to underpin the volatility in the global economy. “Four IPOs in the last year alone. We’ve done almost $3.5 billion in investments in the last two years. I think you can see as many IPOs out of our portfolio in the year ahead. And I, if anything, see India picking up share in our investment activity.”
Coulter met his long-time business partner David Bonderman while working for billionaire Robert Bass. The pair left in 1992 to start TPG Capital, one of the earliest PE firms to establish a presence in India two decades ago.
From online retail startups (Nykaa, Lenskart, FirstCry), some of which have led to mega paydays for the fund in India to partnering with some of the biggest or trusted corporate names in India Inc – Reliance Industries, Tata Motors, Shriram Group – Coulter, a Dartmouth and Stanford alumnus, argued that good partners do interesting things “that can create good returns”. “But look at Nykaa, right, that’s where we made maximum returns. There are these really interesting small companies. I think the big ones sometimes get more noticed because they’re more mature on the investment side. But I wouldn’t overread. It’s a tool in a very, very complex and interesting toolbox,” he said.
Coulter said a stable government, clearer rules and falling tax rates, along with increased government spending in infrastructure, spurred the investment upcycle in the world’s largest democracy. “It’s a really interesting moment,” he said. “The speed of innovation and the willingness of the government to help has surprised me.”
At a time when globalisation has given way to regionalism and the ongoing war in Ukraine has caused havoc in commodity prices, India has a strategic advantage to lead the global narrative on climate change, said Coulter. “Regionalisation in some ways will also potentially accelerate some of the spending for the green economy,” he said. “What’s very different is that the climate revolution is a fiscal revolution. In the tech revolution, someone built the internet for you.”
TPG Capital invests via multiple pools of capital – an impact fund Rise and Evercare, which helps companies scale and yet deliver high returns; the original TPG Capital as well as growth investing through TPG Growth and TPG Tech Adjacencies fund.