KKR poaches team for Asean push

The private equity giant has hired a trio from Leafgreen Capital Partners to cover credit and special situations in Southeast Asia out of Singapore. Indonesia is a particular focus.
KKR poaches team for Asean push

Private equity firm KKR has hired the founder and two former partners of Leafgreen Capital Partners in Singapore to install a credit and special situations team for Southeast Asia with a focus on Indonesia.

The move comes amid high investor optimism for Indonesia following the July election of Joko Widodo as president. He campaigned on a promise of bringing much-needed improvements to infrastructure, which will require substantial capital inflows.

Jaka Prasetya, founder and ex-managing partner of Leafgreen, joined KKR yesterday. He is tasked with spearheading the firm’s Indonesia business and credit and special situations initiatives in Southeast Asia.

He succeeds Hong Kong-based Ridha Wirakusumah, who is director of private equity and lead for Indonesia but will leave KKR at the end of this month. AsianInvestor could not ascertain Wirakusumah’s next move as of press time.

“With urbanisation, rising wages and a young and growing working class, we see excellent opportunities in Indonesia with good companies looking for varied financial solutions,” said Prasetya.

Prasetya and the two other new hires were not available for an interview by press time.

Former Leafgreen partners Rahul Bhargava and Allen So also joined KKR yesterday in Singapore, as directors. They will focus on credit and special situations and work with Prasetya.

Prasetya will also work with Lu Ming, KKR’s co-head of Asia PE and head of the Singapore office, which opened in October 2012. The three new hires do not have formal reporting lines to more senior staff.

Singapore-based Leafgreen advises on mezzanine and event-driven investments in Southeast Asia with a focus on Indonesia. A company spokeswoman declined to comment apart from to say she was unsure whether the company would continue operations.

Prasetya founded Leafgreen in 2011. Before that, he was from 2006 to 2010 chief executive of Singapore forestry and pulp firm United Fiber System. He has also worked for Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch and UBS.

Bhargava joined Leafgreen in September last year. Before that he was a principal at UK fund house Henderson Global Investors, which he joined in May 2001, according to his LinkedIn profile. He helped set up Henderson's Asia private equity business.

So joined Leafgreen in 2011. Before that he held structured-credit responsibilities at Societe Generale. He has also worked at Standard Chartered, JP Morgan and Centre Solutions in Hong Kong and Salomon Smith Barney in New York.

KKR made its first PE fund investment into Indonesia last year. KKR bought a 9.5% stake in Indonesian snack food maker Tiga Pilar Sejahtera, as reported.

The firm has been active in Southeast Asia since 2005, making a range of investments including building a stake in Vietnam fish sauce maker Masan Consumer.

In July last year it closed its Asian II Fund at $6 billion, which followed its $4 billion regional fund in 2007 and its $1 billion China Growth Fund in 2010. KKR said that 26%, or $1.47 billion, of the Asia II Fund was raised from Asia-based investors.

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