Baring PE Asia continues team build out with Lai hire

The firm’s real estate head Mark Fogle has continued hiring former colleagues, this time bringing aboard ex-Invesco and AIG construction-focused executive Malcolm Lai as a managing director.

Malcolm Lai, one of two senior executives to have left Invesco Real Estate in Asia in April, has resurfaced at Baring Private Equity Asia, the Hong Kong-based private equity real estate firm that is in the early stages of building out a real estate platform. He joined at the end of last month.

Lai, who was head of construction and one of a number of real estate executives inherited by Invesco when it acquired most of AIG Global Real Estate’s (AIG RE) Asian business in February 2011, left the firm alongside Nami Sera, its head of Japanese funds.

He rejoins his former colleague Mark Fogle, who was appointed by Baring in 2011 to build out and lead a real estate business to supplement its core private equity platform. The pair used to work together while at AIG RE.

His hire is the latest in a series of reunions for Fogle at Baring. Of the 15 staff currently working for the firm’s real estate platform, a number previously worked with him, either at AIG or Deutsche Bank where he worked afterwards. These include head of China Charles Lam, Southeast Asia focused principal Joji Thomas and portfolio management head Peter Manga.

Baring is yet to make a first acquisition via is newly assembled real estate platform although PERE understands a maiden deal is close to happening. The firm has meanwhile been growing its resources through raising its first opportunistic investment fund. As of last month, the firm had corralled more than $200 million for the vehicle through which it intends to invest in emerging markets including China, India and markets in Southeast Asia as well as mature markets like Japan and Australia.

Fogle would not discuss fundraising but said of Lai’s hire: “Our investment philosophy in Asia has always been focused on capital preservation. A large part of that strategy centers around a brick and mortar cost per square foot approach to real estate versus financial engineering or the use of excessive leverage. We are excited for Malcolm to be rejoining the team as we maintain that same investment approach going forward.”