Leopard Cambodia Fund, a new vehicle being raised by Hong Kongbased 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 10 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 last year 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, but it is unlikely to be the last. The country is increasingly attracting spillover attention from its neighbor Vietnam. VinaLand, a Vietnam-focused real estate fund, is another firm also starting to look at opportunities in Cambodia. Other private equity firms are also looking at the country, particularly in light of its oil and mineral resources.
The country's prime minister Hun Sen is pursuing a strategy to focus on these resources and reduce Cambodia's dependence on clothing exports and tourism for growth. Cambodia has recently opened its first stock exchange, and has seen rapid economic growth over the past few years, in part due to a relatively stable political environment and an improving legal framework. Cambodia is also a significant exporter of soft commodities and food products and holds the potential to being an attractive tourist destination because of its climate.
The country has also seen significant price increases in real estate values recently as a surge in land speculation has resulted in the sale of 45 percent of the country's landmass, according to a recent report in Britain's the Guardian newspaper.
Leopard, which has a representative office in Phnom Penh, has several exit strategies envisioned, including 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 political changes.
RREEF to pump $1bn into India
New York-based alternative asset manager RREEF, owned by Deutsche Bank, has opened an office in Mumbai to direct its upcoming push into Indian real estate and infrastructure. RREEF India Advisors, as the local business will be called, is being staffed initially by six professionals. The new entity is being led by Kishore Gotely, who left Indian private equity house ICICI Venture last September, where he was head of their $550 million (€349 million) real estate fund. Kurt Roeloffs, who heads RREEF Asia Pacific, said at an event unveiling the new operation that RREEF plans to invest $1 billion in India across the real estate and infrastructure sectors over the next three years. It recently completed its second deal in the market, buying a 60 percent stake in a joint venture with NCC Urban Infrastructure.
Protego launches Vietnam fund
Protego Real Estate Investors has launched a new $200 million (€128 million) fund to invest in residential developments in Vietnam. Protego Qudos Vietnam Property Fund will be invested in partnership with Vietnamese real estate development company Qudos Asia. Qudos and its sister company HBP have 80 staff located throughout Vietnam. The vehicle is a residential development fund, targeting luxury apartments in prime urban locations as well as residential estates in prime suburban and coastal locations. It will also allocate no more than 10 percent to boutique branded resorts and villas. A minimum of 80 percent must be invested in residential projects.
Blackstone in first India play
Blackstone Real Estate Partners has agreed to invest approximately $18 million (€11.5 million) for a minority stake, with board representation, in Synergy Property Development Services, an Indian construction firm. The firm did not reveal the size of the stake, but said the stake would give it representation on Synergy's board. The investment is the firm's first pure property development play in India. Formed in 2003, Synergy currently has more than 500 employees across nine offices in India, with international offices in Dubai and Kuala Lumpur. Synergy is based out of Bangalore and has completed 20 million square feet of real estate, currently managing more than 100 million square feet across various asset classes including office, retail, residential, hotels and hospitals.
Invesco pro moves to ADIA
Paul Kennedy, head of European research for Invesco Real Estate, will leave the firm at the end of the summer to join the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), the world's largest sovereign wealth fund. Invesco manages €21.4 billion ($34 billion) of property assets, €7.7 billion of which is in Europe. Kennedy's role at Invesco was in market forecast and investment strategy for Europe. He was previously with Parkes & Co., which was bought by Invesco in 2001. Before that he was a senior analyst at Henderson Global Investors. ADIA has been looking for professionals for its activity in Europe recently, as it seeks to expand its reach.