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Actis's Sanjiv Aggarwal said to be frontrunner for India NIIF CEO job

The board of the National Investment & Infrastructure Fund has recommended Aggarwal for the role of Chief Executive Officer, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private

NIIF

Photo: Bloomberg

Bloomberg

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By Preeti Singh and Ruchi Bhatia

Sanjiv Aggarwal, who leads energy investments for Actis LLP in Asia, is emerging as the frontrunner to head India’s $4.9 billion quasi sovereign fund, according to people with knowledge of the matter, filling a role left in limbo for more than a year. 

The board of the National Investment & Infrastructure Fund has recommended Aggarwal for the role of Chief Executive Officer, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. The final list of approved candidates submitted to India’s government about three weeks ago may have included another executive, they added.

It’s unclear if the government — which is the biggest shareholder of the fund that also counts Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board as backers — will reach a decision before national elections due next year. 

Aggarwal is seen as a top choice due to his experience in the infrastructure and energy sector, key areas that the fund works on, the people said. He was also picked as Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants the NIIF to support large initiatives like PM Gati Shakti — Hindi for strength of speed — a $1.2 trillion digital platform that connects 16 ministries and seeks to ease bottlenecks in infrastructure projects, they said.  

India’s finance ministry spokesperson and NIIF did not respond to emails seeking comments. Aggarwal, who has been at Actis for 15 years, also did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment. 

If Aggarwal makes the cut, the decision would cap NIIF’s long search for a CEO since Sujoy Bose announced his decision to step down in September 2022. Bose left a few years before the end of his term, in what some saw as evidence of the government’s frustration over the fund’s performance. Internal candidates, including one of NIIF’s business heads, were also considered for the top job, Bloomberg News had reported earlier. 

The long-drawn CEO hunt had stirred worry among NIIF’s investors on the direction of the fund, which in turn led to a pause in fresh fundraising rounds in private equity and fund of funds strategies, the people said. Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s finance minister said last year she wanted NIIF to be “more robust.” 

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First Published: Nov 15 2023 | 10:49 AM IST

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