The people who attempted to build a private-equity fund-of-funds business at IDFC Capital in Singapore have left to recreate the strategy on their own. Their venture is called Serasi Capital.
India’s IDFC had set up the Singapore office in 2007 as part of a strategy to expand its business beyond its domestic market. That office still exists, but the parent never funded the PE FoF aspect of the business.
Veronica John, Serasi’s managing partner who had been recruited by IDFC to set up the operation in Singapore, says the global financial crisis changed investor priorities. Also the proposed synergies of an emerging-market focused fund-of-PE-funds business with an Indian parent never really materialised.
However, she says the team left IDFC on amicable terms.
The priority now is to raise assets to get a fund off the ground. Fortunately, the infrastructure, IT and personnel are already set up, and Serasi is active with a pool of ‘friends and family’ money. Serasi plans to start with a single fund of PE funds, and will consider managed accounts for larger limited partners.
The team hopes to raise around $250 million for the fund, which would look to invest in no more than 15 general partners based in the region. Serasi’s focus is on middle-market private-equity managers with up to $500 million of assets under management.
In addition to it focusing on homegrown Asia GPs, Serasi is also looking to integrate socially responsible investment principles into all of its investments. One of Serasi’s partners, who is coming from IDFC Capital, is Melissa Brown, a former broker and executive member of ASrIA, the Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia.