StanChart builds private equity business

Standard Chartered has announced the hire of two key personnel and a commitment to build a first rate private equtiy business in Asia.

Karamjit Butalia and Alastair Morrison join existing staffer Rajiv Maliwal at Standard Chartered private equity with a mandate to go long.

Butalia is a seasoned private equity player in Asia having worked at CVC and Citicorp Capital Asia. A Citibanker for 24 years, he has done more than most in the Asian private equity arena. He has invested in and, importantly, exited from companies in Korea (CJ39, Jahwa Electronics, Baiksan, Nongshim), Thailand (UBC), Indonesia (Hakso), as well as having done deals in Greater China and Singapore.

Morrison comes to the bank from UK private equity firm 3i where he was previously COO for Asia. He has been at 3i for 20 years and in Asia since 1997 when he founded the firm's Asia Pacific operations.

The hires mark a distinct strategic shift for StanChart as it strives to build its corporate finance and markets division under recent hire V. Shankar. Both Morrison and Butalia will report to Shankar and will be based in Singapore with offices in Hong Kong.

Shankar says that the new team's activites will be defined by what they will not be doing. There will be no early stage investing, no Japanese or Australian investments. Rather he reveals that the team will try to "leverage off the existing strengths of Standard Chartered in terms of our clients and our georgraphy."

At first, the team aim to make a few key investments with the bank's own money. Once a track record has been established, they will look to raise a fund.

This strategy of mid to late stage buyout investing, supported by a commercial bank with acquisition finance abilities is how UBS Capital and JPMorgan Partners are investing at present. Some might say that it is quite a crowded market, although Shankar points to the fact that starting afresh now is probably more desirable than having existing investments on the books.

"This is a great opportunity and a great franchise," says Butalia. "Standard Chartered has got the clients and the capital. There is definitely space in the mid-market expansion capital area for us to become a pre-eminent player."

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