In early 2017, Mathew Cyriac was in New York to say goodbye to his colleagues at Blackstone. He had spent eleven years at the Mumbai office and it was time to do something on his own. As he reached the private equity giant’s headquarters in Manhattan’s Park Avenue, he was not quite prepared for what was to follow.
A couple of senior officials at Blackstone asked Cyriac, till recently the co-head of the private equity fund’s Indian operations, if he would be keen on buying over two of its assets in India. Understandably, he was taken aback and asked for time to mull over it. A few days later, he was back in India to take stock of his new venture, Florintree Advisors.
Close to 45 days after that meeting in New York, Cyriac said ‘yes’ to Blackstone – he would now acquire Gokaldas Exports, an apparel export company and MTAR Technologies, a precision engineering company. It was in 2007 that the PE fund had invested in both with precious little to show after a decade. It was clear that an exit was the best option.
Between the two, the publicly traded Gokaldas was clearly worse off. Set up by the Bengaluru-based Hinduja group in 1978, it had fallen behind with issues such as revenue stagnation, working capital crunch and rocky relationships with customers. None of that rattled Cyriac and he felt it was an asset that could be turned around, but after a lot of sweat. “I knew that a certain part of the apparel export bus