Private equity firm The Carlyle Group has hired Sunil Kaul as a senior director for financial services.

Kaul will be based in Singapore and starts at Carlyle on August 1. He will focus on CarlyleÆs investments in the financial services sector across Asia and report to the fund heads of Carlyle Asia Partners.

Kaul joins Carlyle from Citi where he was president of Citibank Japan and a member of the Citi Global Management Committee. Prior to this position, Kaul was based in Singapore as Asia-Pacific regional head of CitiÆs retail banking and CitiBusiness. During this period, he played a key role in the development of CitiÆs retail franchise in China and the integration of KorAm bank into the group following the acquisition of the Korean bank in 2004. Kaul is a Citi veteran having spent 18 years at the US bank, first in India and later in New York, in a variety of transaction banking and business development roles.

Kaul is the second Citibanker hired by Carlyle in quick succession. In May the private equity firm poached Devinjit Singh, the head of mergers and acquisitions for Citi in India, to strengthen its India practice.

Financial services provide a proxy to economic growth, wealth creation and demand for more sophisticated products, say sources at Carlyle, adding that the private equity firm sees opportunities across the region in the sector and its various sub-sectors.

Kaul joins a team of other senior directors with an industry focus and strong Asian operating experience. Carlyle terms these hires a key component of its investment strategy in Asia.

In April 2007 Carlyle hired Patrick Siewert and Herman Chang as senior directors. Siewert joined from Coca Cola where he had worked since 2001 in various capacities, including president and chief operating officer for East Asia, South Asia and the Pacific Rim. He has a focus on the retail and consumer sectors. Chang has more than 20 years of senior management experience from General Motors and Delphi, 10 of which he spent in Asia and China. He focuses on the industrial sector.

Like the other industry specialists, Kaul will work on a range of functions from deal sourcing, deal diligence and investment execution to post-investment value creation and business development at Carlyle's portfolio companies. Kaul will be more focused on the management of business growth at Carlyle's portfolio companies, given his expertise in management and business development, say sources at Carlyle.

Carlyle is an active investor in the financial services sector in Asia, with more than $2.5 billion worth of capital deployed in various Asian financial institutions, including China Pacific Insurance, Housing Development Finance Corporation, KorAm Bank and Ta Chong Bank.