India's Best Fund Managers 2018

Eagle-Eye Hunter

Soumendra Nath Lahiri’s edge is his ability to pick winners among relatively under-researched mid-caps 

Soumik Kar

Basketball is a sport of aggression and speed, and Soumendra Nath Lahiri, who was a university-level basketball player, has often been quick on his feet in identifying investment opportunities before others have shown interest in them.

A 1988 engineering graduate from National Institute of Technology, Surathkal, Mangalore, Lahiri’s early brush with equities was while investing in the primary market in the 90s. But he had no plans to work in the equity market. 

After completing his MBA from IIM Bangalore in May 1994, Lahiri joined Crompton Greaves in Mumbai. Stock market was quite often the main topic of discussion when Lahiri would catch up with his IIM-B batchmates, a lot of whom were working in the capital market. This frequent interaction got Lahiri interested in the equity market. 

Around this time, Mumbai-based brokerage Dolat Capital Market was trying to set up an institutional desk. Lahiri jumped at this opportunity. While it was a risk quitting a job at a well-established brand to get into something where he had no prior experience, he thought that it was worth it. “I felt that I didn’t have much to lose by trying out something new in the initial phase of my career. I had a fair bit of success in the primary market and I felt that I could understand how businesses operate as I had worked in companies such as Exide, TVS Suzuki and Crompton Greaves,” says Lahiri. 

He joined Dolat Capital in August 1995 and built an institutional desk with a team of six analysts and a couple of sales traders. Lahiri himself covered capital goods and engineering companies. He also covered a bit of autos and cement. At Dolat, Lahiri was encouraged by the promoters to look for mid and small-cap ideas. “We were a broking firm and making clients invest in large-caps would have got us more brokerage, but still the management encouraged us to look for ideas in the mid and small-cap space,” he says. 

Lahiri loved the freedom, and made the most of his time at Dolat. Nine years of 

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