Partners Group opens fifth Asian office

The Swiss-headquartered global alternatives investor has established a base in Seoul and appointed Alex Cho to head its Korean efforts. The appointment will bring the firm closer to clients including Korea Investment Corporation.

Cho is a veteran of the Korean private equity industry having worked with “a number of funds” since 1995, he told PERE sister publication PEI Asia in an interview. Prior to his appointment as Korea chief, he was responsible for client relationship development and capital-raising at Partners Group.

The establishment of an office in Seoul will enable Partners Group to better target and invest directly in Korean companies, the statement said. 

Speaking to PEI Asia, Cho said that although sector-agnostic, Partners Group will pay special attention to sourcing primarily top-tier growth, buyout and expansion type deals in the country’s manufacturing, retail and greentech sectors.

Cho added that the firm had a typical bite size of between $20 million to $50 million, but may be willing to invest more depending on the characteristics and structure of the deal.

Like most of Asia, South Korea has shrugged off the effects of the recession and is fast on the road to economic recovery.

“We want to be close to the attractive investment opportunities in this growth market,” Dr. Marcel Erni, co-founder of Partners Group and chief investment officer said in the firm’s statement.

In June 2009, the South Korean government agreed to inject $3 billion into sovereign wealth fund Korean Investment Corporation (KIC), of which $1 billion was to be invested in alternatives. KIC planned to invest in LBO, mezzanine, distressed, growth capital, venture capital and real estate funds, according to its 2008 annual report.

The $30 billion SWF subsequently awarded Partners Group a mandate to manage its private equity secondaries investments in July 2009. And in July this year, KIC announced it had appointed Partners Group to manage its real estate investments too. The size of both mandates were undisclosed.

The Seoul office is the fifth in Partners Group’s Asian stable, the others being in Beijing, Tokyo, Singapore and Australia. Recently the firm appointed Peng Zhao as head of China to replace Linda Cai, who left the firm for unknown reasons

Partners Group currently has more than €20 billion of capital under management across private equity, private debt, private equity real estate and private infrastructure.

At the end of last year, the firm closed its third global secondaries fund on €2.5 billion, surpassing its €2 billion target and more than doubling the amount collected by its predecessor, which closed on €1 billion in September 2006.