Providence Equity Partners has appointed Michelle Guthrie to the position of managing director based in Hong Kong to strengthen coverage of the media and entertainment sectors. Guthrie last held the position of CEO of STAR, the Asian TV network owned by News Corporation.

In January, Providence hired Andrew Rickards, previously CEO of NM Rothschild in the region, to lead its efforts in Asia. Rickards starts at the private equity fund in May. Before working for Rothschild, Rickards was co-head of communications, media and entertainment in the Asia-Pacific for Goldman Sachs.

GuthrieÆs strong operating experience in the media sector, including current relationships with media and entertainment companies, were cited by Providence as significantly enhancing its edge in the region. Guthrie starts at Providence in June.

Guthrie joined STAR in 2000 and became CEO in 2003, taking over from James Murdoch. She announced her resignation, effective March 1 in mid-January of this year. Guthrie has extensive experience in the television industry and before STAR worked at FOXTEL in Australia and BSkyB and News International in the UK. Guthrie has a law degree from the University of Sydney.

Providence Equity manages approximately $21 billion of funds and has a stated focus on companies in the media, entertainment, communications and information sector. In addition to Hong Kong, the firm recently opened an Asian office in Delhi to focus on India opportunities. In October 2006, Providence closed its first Asia investment paying $400 million for a 15% stake in Indian telco, IDEA Cellular. At the time, the firm said the IDEA investment was a precursor to further investments in the region.

GuthrieÆs hire comes close on the heels of Carlyle announcing it has appointed Patrick Siewert from Coca-Cola and Herman Chang from Delphi to focus investments in consumer-related businesses and industrial companies, respectively.

Many private equity firms are setting up shop in Asia, which is expected to be the future mecca of this business. For private equity firms, hiring people with on-the-ground operating experience in industry provides an advantage when understanding business and growth plans of companies in that industry. Further, in the Asia-Pacific region, the competition for talent among financial services firms - who are all aggressively growing their businesses given the opportunities the region is yielding û is at an all-time high. A combination of all these factors suggest the trend of hiring from industry is set to gather further momentum.