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NEW DELHI-A subsidiary of New York City-based XE Capital Management is teaming up with leading Indian industrialist Ashish Saraf to seek out new opportunities in this rapidly emerging country. The announcement did not unveil exactly how much capital the joint venture is committing to the initiative, but XE officials characterized the undertaking as a launch that will “substantially increase” its presence in India, with a focus on secondary markets.

“XE’s real estate activities will benefit from Ashish Saraf’s solid local business and administrative links and connections while also capitalizing on XE’s investment and real estate capabilities,” says Shane Gadbaw, XE’s head of business development. The latest infusion continues a campaign begun in India by XE in January 2006, one that has already seen $93 million spread across eight different cities.

“India and the real estate worlds are colliding, and now is an opportune time to establish a platform,” XE chief executive Michael Szymanski says in explaining the confidence being displayed in the region by the asset management and structured finance firm. A burgeoning middle class is bolstering the country’s housing market, reports Szymanski, adding that XE is interested in a wide berth of product types, from multifamily and retail to office, industrial, mixed-use and even “specialty properties.” Despite its previous activity there, Szymanski says uniting with Saraf was a key part of the mission going forward. “It’s not easy doing business in India, and it is essential to have the right local partner,” he says.

The grassroots knowledge will be especially critical given XE’s desire to find deals in lesser-known enclaves that it refers to as Tier II and Tier III cities, usually communities of one million people or less. XE will consider investments in Tier I communities, but Szymanski says the firm feels better pricing and properties offering greater upside will likely be situated in unproven markets than the popular ones presently favored by most cross-border investors.

In commending the arrangement, Saraf says the venture will enable him “to further contribute to the economic development” of a country where his family’s firm, Facor, has been active for more than a half-century. “XE is committed to help shape the landscape of the Indian real estate market,” offers Saraf, whose family built the fortune in chrome and steel, but is now focused on commercial real estate.

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