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India to be KKR’s biggest non-US operations centre and a critical growth market, says COO Ryan Stork

Global private equity investor KKR on Wednesday said that it is expanding its presence in India with the opening of a new operations back-office in Gurugram, which will be its largest such operations centre outside of its home market of USA, signifying the growing importance of India in KKR’s global ecosystem.

The new office in Gurugram will provide support functions such as finance, operations, human capital and technology to the private equity investor’s global operations.

KKR expects to employ approximately 150 employees in Gurugram by early 2024, bigger than its only other non-US based operations office in Dublin, Ireland, which has a headcount of around 100.

“India has been important to KKR over the years. The growth agenda for KKR, in our global footprint and how we’re investing capital has changed dramatically, in the last few years. If you think about the four investment pillars across private equity, infrastructure, credit and real estate, they have evolved into four global investment franchises with presence across 24 offices around the world. So it was a really good time for us to think about having a bigger footprint in India to support both our investing efforts, but also our global operations around the global marketplace,” Ryan Stork, Chief Operating Officer of KKR told ET in an interaction.

The new office will be the PE firms’ fourth operations centre with two in the US and one in Dublin. The firm also has an outsourcing relationship with Cognizant.

Stork said that the new operations centre in India does not mean that KKR is moving towards more in-sourcing of its operations work.“We’ve had an outsourcing relationship for some time with Cognizant and they’ve been amazing partners over the last 15 plus years. But as both the organisation grew and that relationship grew, we started to really think about how to scale some of this work in a really efficient way. I don’t think we are in-sourcing at any cost. There may be components of our work that we do continue to leverage Cognizant or other outsource service providers. In my mind, I think it’s making sure that the work we are going to bring in house is something that we think we can scale. And as that remit, that role and responsibility matures, some of those things will stay in house and some of those things we may continue to leverage from outsource providers. I don’t think it’s a binary issue,” said Stork.Stork said that while KKR is looking at an initial headcount of 150 in the Gurugram office, he sees this number growing much larger in the coming years. “It will be a substantial number.”

As part of the expansion, KKR has also announced the appointment of Nisha Awasthi who joins KKR as a Managing Director to manage the new office. Awasthi joins KKR after spending nearly two decades at BlackRock, where she was most recently Head of Financial Markets Advisory at BlackRock India.

“When we look at our Gurugram office, we’re not starting with a theory of X number of headcount moves from X locations. What we would like to build, year over year, is more value to the global strategy, clients and the experience we give to them. You will have various operations teams sitting here, the engineering team sitting here, and our focus will be on how you can leverage that operation, that ecosystem that’s been built here to drive more value on an ongoing basis. That’s going to drive our growth in terms of headcount, in terms of what can start to move to Gurugram office more and more over years,” said Awasthi.

KKR has had a long presence in India, having opened its first location in Mumbai in 2009.

With the new addition, KKR has offices in 24 cities across four continents, including nine in Asia Pacific: Beijing, Gurugram, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, and Tokyo.

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