KKR names new head of Greater China

The private equity firm has named CDFC’s Paul Yang as David Liu’s replacement. The move rounds out the deal team as KKR kicks into fund raising mode.

KKR named Paul Yang as its new head of Greater China on Tuesday, replacing David Liu who is leaving to found a new private equity firm. 

Yang, currently CEO of Taipei-headquartered merchant bank China Development Financial Corporation (“CDFC”), will join KKR in January.

The US private equity firm also revealed it was expanding its investment scope in China to include cross-border M&A and state-owned-enterprise restructuring.

The hire rounds out KKR’s Asian deal team as the New York-headquartered firm kicks into fundraising mode. The firm is looking to raise $7 billion for its third Asian fund, according to people familiar with the matter.

Zhen Ji also joined as a managing director of KKR China from CITIC Capital along with Rob Yang in May. Meanwhile Liu is leaving the firm at the end of the year with colleague Julian Wolhardt to start a new China-focused investment firm.

KKR laid out its revamped strategy for China. “We plan to continue to expand our scope of investments to include more mid-cap buyouts, cross-border deals and opportunities related to the domestic consolidation there, as well as in continuing to participate in growth-oriented investments,” said Joseph Bae, KKR Asia’s managing partner, in a statement. 

At CDFC, Yang, 48, supervised the group’s investments and led a team of 7,000 people across its operations in Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, Seoul, Singapore, Bangkok, and Jakarta. 

Having joined CDFC in 2005 as its chief investment officer and head of its private equity business, he was promoted to his current role in 2011.

During his tenure at CDFC, Yang restructured its then-proprietary private equity operation into an asset management franchise.

Before CDFC, the Taiwan native worked at Singapore-headquartered DBS as its head of private equity for four years.

He started his career in finance at Goldman Sachs, serving as Goldman's representative on what was a three-strong board at Alibaba after it put together a $5 million investment in the then-nascent Chinese e-commerce firm.

Based in Hong Kong, Yang will lead KKR's 20-strong team of professionals in Beijing.

KKR launched its operations in Asia in 2005 and now has seven offices across the region.

Since entering Asia in 2005, KKR has completed over 60 private equity transactions across the region with a cumulative investment of over $10 billion.

KKR's current $6 billion Asian Fund II, the largest private equity fund raised in Asia, is generating a gross IRR of 36.2% and a net IRR of 24.8%, according to its most recent filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

KKR Asia Fund, vintage 2007, has an IRR of 13.4% and multiple of 1.6 times, according to private equity investor Calpers’ website. Meanwhile TPG Asia V vintage year 2007 is generating a net IRR of 4.6% and investment multiple of 1.2%.

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