June 22, 2015 / 3:50 AM / 2 years ago

Carlyle backs former Cairn Energy execs' Indian venture

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A general view of the lobby outside of the Carlyle Group offices in Washington, May 3, 2012.Jonathan Ernst

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Carlyle Group (CG.O) will invest up to $500 million in Magna Energy Ltd, a new India-focused upstream oil and gas company co-founded by two former Cairn Energy (CNE.L) executives, including the man credited with the explorer's Indian drilling successes.

Carlyle said on Monday the investment through Carlyle International Energy Partners - a fund that aims to invest in oil and gas exploration and production outside North America - was its first large-scale energy commitment in India.

Bob Maguire, managing director of the Carlyle unit, said the group had made an initial commitment of $250 million, and would invest a further $250 million, depending on projects brought by the company, and approvals by Carlyle's investment committee.

Led by Mike Watts and former Cairn Energy chief financial officer Jann Brown, Magna Energy wants to become a full-cycle oil and gas company through acquisitions and licensing rounds in the Indian sub-continent.

Watts, who oversaw Cairn's Rajasthan finds in India as head of exploration but stood down as deputy chief executive of Cairn Energy last year, said Magna was looking, among other options, at the Indian government's plans to develop marginal fields, due to be announced later this year.

He said the company would also look at other options to build acreage, including asset purchases, farm-ins and even company acquisitions.

Reporting by Denny Thomas in Hong Kong and Nidhi Verma in New Delhi; Editing by Clara Ferreira Marques and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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