Private equity

TPG bulks up in SEAsia with hire from KKR

TPG is adjusting its line-up of professionals as it deploys its $4.6 billion Asian fund. David Tan’s move is a rare switch between US buyout giants.

David Tan will join TPG as a managing director based in Singapore covering Southeast Asia, moving from rival buyout firm KKR, TPG said in a statement on Monday.

Tan is not replacing anyone at the firm. He will work closely with Ganen Sarvananthan, co-managing partner of TPG Capital Asia, and Dominic Picone, a partner at TPG Capital Asia – the firm’s Asia-focused private equity platform.

Shailesh Rao, who was hired in September, will focus on TPG Growth and Rise funds for India and Southeast Asia, while Tan will concentrate on the deployment of TPG Capital Asia VI which closed at $4.6 billion in February.

TPG has seen its fair share of turnover in recent years. In a blow to the firm, well-connected Australian investor Benjamin Grey left to set up his own private equity shop in 2016. His departure set off a flurry of hiring that year, including Sanghoon Lee, Jin-Yong Cai, Jia Dong, Daniel Hu, JinPing Sun and, in Australia, Joel Thickins. More recently it has hired Chang Sun as its managing partner in China.

Grey’s co-head in Asia, Tim Dattels, has also stepped back from day-to-day investing after pulling together most of the new line-up. A TPG spokesperson said that Dattels remains co-managing partner with Sarvananthan of TPG Capital Asia and remains on its investment committee.

David Tan jumps from KKR to TPG


Tan joins TPG from KKR, where he served as a director on the firm’s private equity team and worked for 11 years in its Menlo Park, Hong Kong and Singapore offices.

A KKR spokesperson declined to comment on the move. 

Private equity firms typically recruit from the ranks of investment bankers and consultants as well as smaller buyout firms. It is rare for a professional to move from one to another large US fund, although of course, the boot was on the other foot when Blackstone recently poached TPG’s Daniel Kearns in Australia.

A TPG spokesperson declined to comment on Kearns' movements. 

“David’s strong reputation and years of investing experience will be a significant addition to our fast growing business in Southeast Asia,” said Sarvananthan in the statement announcing Tan's move.

The bulk of private equity’s capital has long been deployed in the more mature Asian markets of North Asia and Australia, but private equity interest is gradually stepping up its presence in Southeast Asia as companies grow in size. TPG is building up its expertise in the region. It has a local affiliate called North Star, which has been a successful investor in Indonesia, while Sarvananthan himself was previously at Malaysian state investor Khazanah Nasional Berhad.

“TPG is highly respected as one of the first global firms to venture into Asia 25 years ago. I am delighted to join the firm at an important time when the Southeast Asia private equity market is becoming increasingly attractive,” said Tan in the statement.


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