UST co-founder plans $1 billion for technology investment

Investment firm led by Indian co-founder of technology services company UST plans to raise about $1 billion for start-up investment and private equity opportunities in Asia’s third-largest economy and beyond.

McLaren strategic ventures started pre-roadshows and saw good interest from family offices and public investors in the Middle East, Chairman Sajan Pillai54, Bloomberg News told Mumbai in an interview.

The firm aims to complete its fundraising by March and will invest in banking and fintech, medical technology, and digital supply chain companies, Pillai said.

Created by Pillai in 2019 with proceeds from the sale of his stake in UST, then known as STU GlobalTo date, MSV has invested $300 million in areas such as chip design and product development.

MSV also provides advisory services, including preparing companies for initial public offerings in the US, where Pillai is based. He is also the general partner of Season Two Ventures, which he says has invested in 20 companies in India and abroad.

In addition to the US, MSV has a six-person office in Bangalore and Pillai said they are considering opening an office in Mumbai.

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He named the MSV after the race car brand and is the proud owner of McLaren, though the firm is not affiliated with McLaren Automotive, as noted on his website. According to him, UST was a sponsor of Formula One racing and called itself “crazy” by McLaren cars due to their acceleration. According to him, Pillai wanted MSV to expand opportunities for entrepreneurs.

SPAK Believer

Last year, MSV joined the carte blanche craze by sponsoring the McLaren Technology Acquisition Corp. which raised $201 million in an IPO in November. The special purpose acquisition company is looking for targets in banking, financial services and insurance that use technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, according to its prospectus.

Pillai is unfazed by the fate of the numerous firms created by the SPAC merger as US regulators weigh in on proposals for more protections for retail investors. Billionaire investor Bill Ekman said Tuesday his blanchet firm will return $4 billion to investors after failing to complete a merger deal.

“A fix was inevitable, but SPAC as a strategy will continue to be a legitimate alternative for entrepreneurs to list their companies,” Pillai said. “It’s a relative collapse, but not an absolute one.”

He is confident that McLaren SPAC will complete the merger with a goal by the first quarter of next year and wants to produce two more vehicles by 2024 after the first merger closes.

“Eight months ago the interest was overwhelming, but legitimate companies are still trying to get listed” through the SPAC, Pillai said. Despite regulatory changes, “SPAC isn’t going anywhere.”

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