Avista Advisory Group’s founder Rajiv Kochhar on how his firm bagged a tie-up with i-bank Houlihan Lokey and his purpose in becoming an entrepreneur
Singapore: In 2010, when US-based investment bank Houlihan Lokey (HL) was looking to make strategic inroads into India and South-East Asia, there were many eager contenders trying to bag the partnership, including some major financial services providers.
HL, which has consistently been ranked No. 1 in merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions under $1 billion and also has the largest global restructuring practice, zeroed in, much to the surprise of many, on a new entity, Avista Advisory.
“Even though we were not a well known brand then, HL was keen on looking for a partner who could build a business along with them and were confident on what I brought to the table in terms of deep relationships and expertise across India and Asia,” says Rajiv Kochhar, the energetic 49-year old founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Avista Advisory Group.
He adds: “I think we jointly worked on the key principle of how this partnership could be a win–win for both parties. The founders and partners at HL respected the fact that while they were a US-centric bank looking to get a foothold in India and South-East Asia, they understood that they were dealing with a partner who knows this region better than most, and took me seriously.”
This confidence, backed by Kochhar’s extensive credentials and a network cultivated over 20 years paid off. HL made a significant advance into India with an equity investment in Avista. Avista is, as a result, HL’s exclusive partner for South Asia and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean), and this arrangement is HL’s only such partnership globally.
Kochhar says he negotiated hard to get a good deal, but also made the necessary compromises to win the deal.