Leopard Capital boosts team

The Hong Kong-headquartered firm has augmented its Cambodian operations as it raises a $100m private equity and real estate fund focused on the country.

Leopard Capital, a private equity and real estate firm, has hired Scott Lewis as managing partner and Chan Sophal as investment manager. Both new hires will be based in the firm’s Phnom Penh office.

Lewis, who has been a private investor in Cambodia, joins the firm from Merrill Lynch. He worked in the bank's global energy and power group from 1993 to 1996 and again from 1999 to 2008 in Houston, Calgary and lastly in London, providing investment banking services to energy clients globally.

In between stints at Merrill, Lewis worked for three years at energy buyout firm First Reserve Corporation and Sterling Group, a Houston-based private equity firm making investments in the US petrochemical, agribusiness and basic manufacturing industries.

Sophal, an agricultural economist, is currently president of the Cambodian Economics Association. He has 11 years agricultural development experience working as a senior research manager for the Cambodian Development and Research Institute. Sophal has also held positions with the World Food Programme, the World Bank and the Prek Leap Agriculture College. At Leopard, he will be responsible for investments in agriculture projects.

Leopard Capital is currently raising a $100 million private equity and real estate fund focused on Cambodia. It has raised about $23 million thus far, Thomas Hugger, a managing partner at Leopard, said in an interview.

One investment of $2.5 million has been made so far from the fund, for a 24 percent stake in a 250-unit condominium development project.

Leopard now has five managing partners, of which two focus solely on investments. In addition to the managing partners, it also has five associates based in Phnom Penh focusing on investments, Hugger said.

The firm expects to make two to three investments within the next couple of months, he added.