Allegations of mismanagement, oppression, and accounting disputes are the common accusations when conflicts arise between private equity funds and shareholders of companies being added to private equity portfolios. These disputes are increasingly being complicated by private equity deals involving companies with offshored entities that have local shareholders in the offshored country. Companies outsourcing via the creation of new foreign entities is not a new phenomenon. However, the activities outsourced to developing countries has shifted from traditional manufacturing and assembly to include more companies in the information technology sectors and even legal processes. Increased offshoring via the creation of satellite entities and the proliferation of private equity deals has increasingly led to instances of local citizen shareholders and partners of the offshored entity being ousted and/or squeezed out of deals.
The global digitization trend has led to an explosion of offshored entities of US companies in India. Fittingly, India has found itself cluttered with western private equity firms in search of potential portfolio companies. Becoming the investee of a private equity deal is generally a positive event for a company and its shareholders. However, it appears that Indian shareholders of these offshored entities can find themselves left out and private equity firms having to engage in unproductive litigation in Indian courts.
Recently, a petition for oppression and mismanagement has been filed in India by Mr. Dominic Thomas Karipaparambil, against, Xcellence Inc. (“XDD USA”), operating under the brand Xact Data Discovery, a US-based provider of eDiscovery, data management and managed review services. The parties to the dispute also include XDD USA’s offshored entity Xact Data Discovery India Private Limited (“XDD India”); JLL Partners Fund VII, L.P. (“JLL Partners”), a US-based private equity firm; and others. Court records show Mr. Karipaparambil, to be the 49% Indian shareholder of XDD India. Additionally, from the records it appears that Mr. Karipaparambil, may have also been the Managing Director of XDD India. Mr. Karipaparambil’s name also appears as the original subscriber to the charter documents of XDD India with Mr. Robert Polus (President & CEO of XDD USA). It seems that Mr. Karipaparambil, Mr. Polus and XDD USA, may have set up XDD India as a joint venture arrangement in the ratio of 51 (Mr. Polus): 49 (Mr. Karipaparambil). At some stage, into the venture, XDD USA seems to have acquired 51% in XDD India from Mr. Polus. US press releases show that JLL Partners acquired ‘Xact Data Discovery’ (XDD USA), shares from Clearview Capital LLC (“Clearview”) in late December 2017 – early January 2018. Past press releases also show that Clearview, another private equity investor, had acquired XDD USA in January 2015.