Hong Kong firm raising fund for Cambodia

Leopard Capital has held an initial closing on a $100 million Cambodia Fund.

Leopard Cambodia Fund, a new vehicle being raised by Hong Kong-based Leopard Capital, has held a first close on a planned $100 million (€65 million) fund to invest in Cambodian companies and real estate. The size of the closing was not revealed.

The fund will have a lifespan of ten years and has received capital commitments from investors in Europe, Asia and the US. On the buyout side it will focus on financial services, retailing, construction materials and agribusiness. On the real estate side it will focus on tourism and property development.

Leopard Capital Asia was founded in 2007 by Douglas Clayton. It is led today by Kenneth Stevens and Stephen Simmons, formerly with CLSA Securities in Thailand, and Thomas Hugger, former head of investments at LGT Investment Management.

The fund is one of the first private equity funds established to invest primarily in Cambodia. The manager's representative office is in Phnom Penh. Exit strategies include public listings on Cambodia’s upcoming stock exchange or on other Asian exchanges, and private sales to strategic investors, investment partners or other funds. The firm says the fund will often co-invest with major international and/or local business groups, and will typically hold majority or significant minority positions.

Leopard Capital focuses exclusively on emerging markets. The team consists of 12 senior professionals who have previous experience in off-the-beaten-track investment destinations. The firm’s other funds include Leopard Bangladesh, Leopard Vietnam and Leopard India. Leopard also has plans to target Laos, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia. It even says it is ready to invest in Pakistan, Burma and North Korea, subject to some political changes.

Cambodia has recently opened its first stock exchange, and has seen rapid economic growth over the past few years. It has also seen relative political stability and an improving legal framework. It is a significant exporter of soft commodities and food products and holds the potential to being an attractive tourist destination because of its climate.