Unlike most private equity General Partners (GP), Amit Varma doesn’t mince words when he insists that private equity is a simple business. That may not explain how he exceeds his own estimates every time he sets out to raise a fund but it surely allows his growth equity fund, Quadria Capital, to punch above its weight.
When we first spoke in December, Varma, a trained medical doctor, was in Dubai closing a deal. He wouldn’t disclose much, except that it was in the postoperative rehab space. In 2020, Varma and his co-founder and managing partner Abrar Mir closed a US$600 million fund. Meant to raise only US$400 million, it will eventually end up investing US$800 million to US$1 billion. A second, smaller venture capital (VC)-like fund, Health Quad, will exceed its US$100 million target to close at US$150 million in April.
Varma headed up critical care at Fortis Healthcare—he continues to maintain his practising licence in India and the United States—when he returned to India in 1999. In crossing over to investment, he ran the Milestone-Religare investment franchise with Mir, earning their Southeast Asia credentials with a slew of deals. When the assets were amalgamated with the Fortis group, the duo had their “Hurrem” moment—to start a fund of their own.
In 2013, Quadria acquired acquired Livemint Quadria buys Milestone Religare Investment Advisors Read more the Milestone-Religare joint venture, raised money, and chose to headquarter itself in Singapore, “far ahead of the Mauritius post-boxes and all the attendant issues”. Capital would eventually get regulated so why kick the can down the regulatory road?
Today, as a double niche fund—focussed only on healthcare in South and Southeast Asia—Quadria is making ambitious bets in the region. In four years, Varma believes, Asia’s healthcare market will grow more than that of the US and Europe combined. He spends six months travelling through the ASEAN ASEAN ASEAN The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is an intergovernmental organisation comprising 10 SEA nations and six months in India where 30% of the Quadria fund is deployed. He also runs a tight ship, with just 15 people in Singapore and 10 in India.
Varma’s bullishness comes from his math that the addressable market is in Asia; the US market is only nice to have. He details them out in this interview, a calculus of investing with deductions in sets of two, three or four arguments.
The Ken: Let’s start with your career. You practised critical care for nearly 20 years, both in India and the US, and then became an investor. Why do you believe doctors should understand profit and loss?
When I studied medicine, it was considered an honourable profession.