US-based buyout house Bain Capital has signalled its ambitions in Asia by relocating a top European executive to the region while preparing a large fundraising for the year’s end.
Walid Sarkis, a founding member of Bain Capital’s European operations, is in the process of moving to Hong Kong, according to sources.
He would be in charge of “driving the business there”, one said. Dwight Poler and Steven Barnes will co-head the European business, sources said. Barnes, currently based in the US, was informally made co-head in Europe last year, ahead of the move.
Sources said the firm was eyeing a return to fundraising for its Asia business at the end of this year, and was looking to raise more than the $1bn (€751m) it raised there in 2007. One said the firm might look to double the size of its previous fund, although this was played down by a source close to the firm.
Sarkis joined Bain Capital in Boston in 1997 and became a managing director in 2002. He studied at France’s Ecole Polytechnique, the world’s top engineering university, and has an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Bain’s Asia plans come as firms and investors focus more on their Asia businesses. This month Carlyle Groupraised its third Asia fund at $2.5bn, while Permira moved senior executive Veronica Eng to chair its Asia operations last year.
Other regional operations are also flourishing, with New Horizon Capital, co-founded by Winston Wen, the son of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, raising $750m in March, according to Dow Jones publication LBO Wire.
Smaller firms are also busy. Last week, Beijing-based Origo Partners embarked on its first renminbi fundraising, looking to raise the equivalent of $75m, following an earlier $100m 2008 dollar fund, according to a statement.
Private equity funds raised in Asia reached a peak of $80bn in 2008, according to data provider Preqin, which was half that raised in Europe. Only $20bn was raised last year by the region’s funds as the financial crisis triggered a global fundraising collapse.
So far this year Asian funds have raised $10.1bn, which is two thirds of the $15.8bn raised in Europe, Preqin said.