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Blackstone Eyes $500-$720M Deals a Year in India

(Reuters) – U.S. private equity giant Blackstone Group expects to invest roughly $500 million to $720 million a year in India over the next few years, a top official said on Tuesday, as a subdued stock market drives entrepreneurs to other investors.

Akhil Gupta, chairman and managing director of Blackstone India, told the Reuters India Investment Summit that private equity was in great demand to fund projects.

“Not just ourselves, but the entire fraternity is extremely busy right now,” he said.

The firm expects to do five or six deals a year in India of roughly $100 million to $120 million each, he said.

The main stock index .BSESN has fallen more than a fifth this year as a slew of rate increases dented consumer spending and hurt earnings growth.

Blackstone, which manages about $128 billion globally according to Thomson Reuters data, is one of the most active private equity investors in India, where it has invested nearly $1.8 billion since 2006.

Gupta declined to comment on media reports that Blackstone was in talks along with rival Carlyle Group to buy the telecoms tower unit of debt-laden cellular carrier Reliance Communications.

Regulatory uncertainty is an overhang on the sector, he said.

“I can give you lots of scenarios where telecom may be a great buy, but it will depend on how the regulations unfold, and I have no certainty that regulations unfold the way it should unfold,” Gupta said.

($1 = 52.7 Indian Rupees)

(Reporting by Indulal PM and Tony Munroe; Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan)