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The IRG Asia Fund is a special-situations fund focused on the telecom, media and technology sectors in Asia. It was launched in 2007 as a hybrid public equity/private equity product. It looks for and creates specific events such as M&A, recapitalisations, restructurings and consolidations, with a view to creating catalysts for shareholder value within an 18-month time horizon. The fund currently has assets of approximately $25 million.
IRG was co-founded by former Lehman Brothers internet and telecoms experts Matt Burlage, Juliette Chow and Ravi Sarathy. All are youthful looking, but they have actually been working together as a team in Asia for nigh on 15 years.
ôTo date, we have not actively marketed the fund. We are now open for investment based on this core focus on special situations in the private markets,ö says Burlage, IRG's CEO.
ôGiven the state of the public markets, exits are more difficult through the IPO route, and hence M&A and consolidation have become the main themes over the last several months," he says. "Often times, given our knowledge of the TMT sectors, experience and relationships in Asia, we can create the investment opportunity ourselves by identifying a good management team, a consolidation platform, capital providers and ultimately the take-out mechanism.ö
IRG does not mark up its private investments until monetisation occurs. Its special-situation and private-equity investments are up approximately 25% over the last 12 months. The firm sees an array of deals in the TMT sectors ranging from $1 million up to $500 million.
In the Philippines, Globe Telecom has acquired 100% of an IRG Asia Fund investment, the mobile content provider Entertainment Gateway Group, which provides mobile content such as computer games.
The price paid by Globe Telecom for Entertainment Gateway Group was about $8 million and resulted in an approximate internal rate of return of 100% on the investment.
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Financials and healthcare have been spotted as promising sectors, while several tech IPOs are on the way, including a $2.2 billion fintech firm and a GIC-backed e-commerce startup.
A strong recovery in the Asia Pacific private capital markets in 2021 sets up favourable hiring and compensation trends.
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