Bull Crossing

Knowledge is Bliss

The Desi Establishment

Posted by g.e. on August 10, 2006

Saw a couple of good articles on the Big Swinging Desis:
One on The Economic Times (dated Dec 26, 2003) by one Vinod Mahanta, and another, more recent one (Jul 2006) on Little India.

Some snippets, inevitably (for fear of loosing the url someday), follow.

First, From Vinod Mahanta‘s on ET, which notes several interesting trends:
Arshad Zakaria was not just one of the most powerful Indians on the Street, he was one of the most powerful men on Wall Street. Though late entrants on Wall Street, many Indians are in powerful positions at the top investment banks, equity research and finance firms, quite apart from the hundreds in their rank and file. Arshad Zakaria, ex-Merrill Lynch, Vikram Pandit of Morgan Stanley, Sanjeev Mehra and Michael Parekh of Goldman Sachs, Karan Trehan (Ankar Capital), Purna Saggurti and Michael Desa (Merrill Lynch), PJ Juvekar (Salomon Smith Barney), Ashok Kumar (US Bancorp Piper Jaffray), Ravi Suria (Duquesne Capital), Jesse Bhattal (Lehman Brothers)… The list is endless, so much so that even the CTO of the American Stock Exchange, Ravi Apte, is Indian.

Hold your breath, hold your horses, hold your bulls and listen to Karan Trehan, CEO, Ankar Capital and ex-CEO of Alliance Capital: “You see Indians everywhere you go and at all levels.” The Indian Wall Street story has been taking shape in the last two decades, but real acknowledgment of the phenomenon started sometime in the mid-nineties. Especially after the internet boom, when Indians were at the forefront in Silicon Valley. The next – and final – frontier of capitalism may soon be conquered by Indians. They’re already making their presence felt at the top of most Wall Street firms. Take Morgan Stanley, for instance – Vikram Pandit is one of their top three executives, and he heads the most profitable and biggest division of Morgan Stanley, institutional securities. The emerging markets division is co-headed by Ruchir Sharma and Narayan Ramachandran, and there are people on the administration side like Raju Panjwani and Raj Gupta, while the investment banking side boasts of Vikram Gandhi. Ditto Merrill Lynch – forget Arshad Zakaria, we now have Michael DeSa, Purna Saggurti and Satya Pardhuman, all heading important units. The story is the same at Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Salomon Smith Barney. Come placement season at the IIMs and everyone from a Merrill Lynch to a Morgan Stanley, a Goldman Sachs to a Salomon Smith Barney is waiting in queue.

And some from Little India‘s, which sort of extends it into 2006..
A New York magazine article in 2002 captured the rise of immigrants in the business astutely. “During this very time in the early to mid-eighties, the next wave of outsiders, similar in many ways to the first wave, began to flood the street with résumés,” wrote Landon Thomas Jr. “They, too, were the sons (and daughters) of immigrant families, but now the families came from or still lived in places like Beirut, Bombay, Lahore, and Lagos. If anything, they may have been smarter than the first wave. Scholarship kids all, they had degrees spanning the quantitative realm: electrical engineering, physics, applied mathematics. No poli-sci majors here. These kids, growing up amid so much poverty, went to school to learn a trade, not to linger over the liberal arts.”

Indeed, the list of Indians in major corporations on Wall Street reads almost like a roll call. To name a few, at Deutsche Bank, Anshu Jain is head of Global Markets and a member of its executive committee. He is jointly responsible for managing the bank’s Euro 170 billion corporate loan portfolio. At Merrill Lynch, Purna Saggurti is head of multi industries investment banking, which includes aerospace and defense, chemicals and automotive sectors.

Prakash Melwani of Blackstone Group came to Wall Street via Cambridge University and Harvard Business School. He founded Vestar Capital Partners before joining Blackstone Group. In his 20 years on Wall Street he has seen the growing presence of Indians in the financial sector.

Another young financial superstar, Arshad Zakaria, former president of the Merrill Lynch Global Markets and Investment Banking Group, also went solo, founding the New Vernon India Fund that invests in India for Carnegie Corporation and other investors.

Girish Reddy, who was a partner and Co-Head of Equity Derivatives of Goldman, Sachs & Co, along with two other executives from the company started Prisma Capital Partners, based in Jersey City, with $1.5 billion in assets under management.

While the Desi phenomenon is still nowhere near the size or scale of WASP or Jewish establishments now, i don’t want to rule out the coming age of Desi Establishment :-)

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