KKR adds two senior China execs

The New York-based private equity firm has further strengthened its presence in Asia by naming as senior advisors the president of Lenovo Group and the vice chairman of China Netcom Group.

New York-based private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) has taken on Liu Chuanzhi, the president of Legend Holdings and the former chairman and president of Lenovo Group (formerly Legend Group), and Edward Tian Suning, the founder and chairman of China Broadband Capital Partners, to be senior advisors to the firm’s operations in China, KKR said in a statement.

With $25,000 in funding from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Liu and his partners formed the Legend Group in 1984. In 2004, Legend bought IBM’s personal computer unit. The National Committee on United States-China Relations honored him for his contributions to Sino-US relations in 2005, making him the first non-American to be recognized by the group, the statement said.

Tian launched China Broadband Capital Partners, the first government-sponsored technology, media and communications sector-focused private equity fund in China, in April, the statement said. He is the vice chairman and former chief executive officer of China Broadband’s parent company, China Netcom Group, a fixed line telecommunications operator in China that also operates international data communications in the Asia-Pacific region, the statement said.

“In every market KKR operates, it is crucial that we develop the deep understanding of local business practices and true insider status,” Henry Kravis, a KKR founding partner, said in the statement. “To this end we are delighted that Chuanzhi and Edward have agreed to become senior advisors to KKR.”

Established in 1976, KKR has offices in global offices in London, Paris, Hong Kong and Tokyo in addition to its New York and Menlo Park, California ones. The firm has made a number of notable additions to its year-old Asia offices in the past several months. The firm hired GE Capital veteran Taketo Yamankawa to serve as the chief executive officer of its Japanese operations in March. It snagged Ming Lu, the managing director of its Hong Kong office, from CCMP Capital Asia (formerly known as JPMorgan Partners Asia), in February. Prior to that, the firm picked up Sir Deryck Maughan to be the chairman of KKR Asia in October of 2005.

KKR told its limited partners that it was considering a separate Asia-focused private equity fund to be raised in 2007, sources said in June.