Asia chairman sought by TPG

By Cathy Chan (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-05-10 10:45
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HONG KONG - TPG Capital, the buyout company that manages $48 billion, is seeking a chairman for its Asian operations to help it compete for investments in China, said three people with knowledge of the matter.

The Texas-based company wants a Chinese speaker and has held discussions with several candidates, the people said, asking not to be identified because the process is private.

TPG has invested $8.1 billion in Asia since the start of 2008, more than Carlyle Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, according to estimates by the Asian Venture Capital Journal (AVCJ). Two senior TPG managers, Shan Weijian and Mary Ma, have left during the past year to join other asset managers.

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In China, Asia's biggest private-equity market over the past three years, foreign buyout firms are facing stiffer competition from local rivals, as former executives at Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Ping An Insurance (Group) Co set up their own funds.

Ma, the former chief financial officer of Lenovo Group Ltd who joined TPG in 2007, quit this year to help Ping An's former president Louis Cheung start the private equity firm, Boyu Capital Ltd.

The charity foundation of the Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing said last month it had agreed to invest in a Boyu Capital fund.

Tim Payne, a spokesman for TPG at public relations firm Brunswick Group in Hong Kong, declined to comment.

In the past six years, TPG, founded by David Bonderman and Jim Coulter, has bought stakes in Chinese companies in industries ranging from solar energy to supermarkets and finance.

It has also announced two yuan-denominated funds in Chongqing municipality in Central China and in Shanghai, following Carlyle and Blackstone Group LP in raising money in the Chinese currency.

The firm's Asia-Pacific team is currently led by Hong Kong-based Stephen Peel. Timothy Dattels, a partner at TPG, helps oversee investments in Asia while spending most of his time in San Francisco.

Last year, Shan Weijian, a former partner in TPG's Hong Kong office, left to join Pacific Alliance Group, an Asia-based alternative investment manager, as chairman and chief executive officer.

Shan helped TPG buy a stake in China's Shenzhen Development Bank Co in December 2004, one of the company's most profitable Asian investments.

TPG sold its stake in the lender in 2009 to Ping An, China's second-biggest insurer. The fund has since raised $2.44 billion by selling Ping An shares it received in the deal. TPG's Newbridge Capital LLC paid about $145 million for the Shenzhen Bank stake in 2004.

Carlyle has invested $6.2 billion in the region since the beginning of 2008 and KKR has made $6.4 billion of deals during the same period, according to estimates from AVCJ.

Some 19 percent of TPG's Asian investments were in China, compared with 14 percent for Carlyle and 24 percent for KKR, according to the researcher.

Bloomberg News