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8 Nov 2006

Indian company Expanding through Hedge Fund Investments

Optical networking vendor Tejas Networks India Ltd. has plans to further expand its operations outside India and into Southeast Asia.

The Bangalore-based company is said to be raising $20m from India-focused hedge fund Sandstone Capital, followed by a private equity fund buying out existing investors like IL&FS, which holds around 15% stake in the company. Sandstone Capital is one of many investment funds that have sprung up to back Indian startups.

Sandstone Capital is one of the largest India-dedicated investment funds, based in Boston, Massachusetts the company manages capital for U.S. and European universities, foundations and families. Sandstone invests in public and private Indian companies with strong growth prospects.

Tejas Networks was started in 1998 by Guru Raj Deshpande, the founders are Sanjay Nayak, Kumar N Shivrajan, and Arnob Roy. The company has raised funding from investors like Intel Capital, Battery Ventures, ASG Omni, Sycamore Networks, IL&FS and Gabriel Venture Partners.

CEO Sanjay Nayak says the company has won small OEM deals in other emerging markets such as Indonesia and Vietnam, which it will use as a starting point to expand its sales in the region. Tejas is “shipping in the thousands” to OEMs, he says, which include as yet unidentified partners in the U.S. The company has been profitable for the past three quarters and expects to reach $50 million in revenues for the financial year ending in March.

“We believe that the time is ripe for Indian product companies. Tejas has performed very well not only to gain significant market share in the fast-growing but highly competitive Indian telecom market, but has also reached international customers through strong global partnerships”, said Paresh Patel, Managing Director of Sandstone Capital in a statement.

International sales account for around 25% to 30% of the company’s revenues, but “the objective next year is to have an equal split between India and international sales,” Nayak says.

Average Hedge Fund Returns fall Short

According to the recently released data by Hedge Fund Research Inc., hedge funds returned a global average of 1.98% in October, but managers still failed to keep pace with gains by the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and average returns fell short.

Because hedge funds typically use leverage/gearing or debt to invest, the positions they can take in the financial markets are larger than their assets under management. The number of hedge funds increased 10% during the past year to reach around 9,000 according to HFR.

Hedge funds have returned 9.22% in 2006 through last month, compared with a 12.1% increase including dividends by the S&P index. Hedge funds attracted $44.5 billion from wealthy investors and institutions in the third quarter, the most in one quarter since at least 2003.

Event-driven managers in the HFR indexes earned 1.73% in October, pushing their year-to-date return to nearly 11%. Convertible bond specialists earned 1.34% in October and can claim 10-month returns of 12.31%.

Funds of funds tracked by HFR returned 1.56% last month and are up 6.4% on the year.

Hedge Funds in Hollywood

Hedge fund money has been flowing into Hollywood as people who have made big fortunes develop an appetite to be in the movie business.

The hedge funds have been popping up rapidly, helping to steady studio film slates by allowing studios to finance pics at larger and more flexible budgets as the economics of the movie business cause more and more studios to rely on outside financing.

Last month the Cruise/Wagner team negotiated what they call “an unprecedented multi-faceted financing deal” for $100 million, with “two top hedge funds.” when they had trouble at Paramount.

Now, Fortress Entertainment, set up by hollywood producers Forbes and Rizzotti, is up and running. The two entrepaneurs created the American Film Capital fund, which now represents over 100 private investors. The company has raised over $6 million since starting to work with Wall Street investors.

Rizzotti said “We created a formula where we only went to individuals asking for $20,000 to $30,000. So it was never huge risk money for anybody. We would just say, ‘Give us a little, a small fraction, just a little bit.’”

Amir Malin, the former CEO of Artisan Entertainment who is running the investment fund Qualia Capital said, “The more sophisticated equity and hedge funds have developed a great learning curve, and they are much more conservative about film financing,” he says. “There is so much capital out there, and there are hedge funds out there that have not entered that are enamored of the industry…...This is something that we have seen in the past four or five months.”

One veteran hollywood agent said “It’s all about the formula, the numbers. It’s the conglomeratization of the business….if you have money, the studios show you the red carpet,”