Cross-border mergers and acquisitions start with empathy, says investment banker Abhjieet Biswas, MBA '00. "Everything else can fall into place," he says. "But if there are barriers to understanding each other, you won't be successful."
Biswas, a 2000 MBA graduate of the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, says empathy is also a key component of global mindset. "It means having the ability to marry knowledge of local markets with a global outlook," he says. "And to see these two things as complementary not supplementary."
Biswas credits his Maryland Smith experience with helping him to develop his global mindset and capacity to do cross-border deals. "I truly believe that the decision to join the Smith School in the fall of 1998 was a turning point in my life," he says. "For someone who had not stepped out of Mumbai until 1998, it opened up a world of opportunities."
The education helped prepare Biswas for a major career move in 2013. That's when he founded an investment banking firm called 7i Advisors in Mumbai. The "bread and butter" of the company is cross-border mergers and acquisitions, although it also engages in private equity fundraising and joint ventures. 7i advises Indian companies looking for foreign capital, as well as advising foreign companies looking to acquire Indian businesses.
Prior to the start-up, Biswas recognized a market gap. The investment banks that dominated India either had bankers fly in from the United States or Germany to stitch together transactions, although they lacked in-depth knowledge of Asian markets. Other times they had Indians put together the deals, although they lacked an understanding of how things worked globally.
Biswas and his partners realized they could do better. They had a vision to "create something truly global and cross border."
Just as Maryland Smith helped Biswas develop his global mindset, 7i helps firms develop their global mindset. One of the company's first clients was a Japanese investor who had been trying for a number of years to find a company to acquire in India.
"Everyone who was showing him transactions was doing it the wrong way," Biswas says. "The middleman was doing all the deal making." However, he knew that that is not how deals are done in Japanese culture. "They need more personal transactions, from the ground level up to understand the culture of the business," Biswas says.
7i was able to find this investor something in three months. "Closing deals in different cultures requires not only utilizing finance and negotiating skills, but also empathy toward different cultures and avoiding painting the globe with one broad brush," Biswas says. "You need to use emotional and intellectual quotients. My Japanese classmates at Smith helped me understand how important patience and diligence are in their culture."
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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.