Interview with Vincent Warner, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Chepstow Capital Vincent, a sponsor at the marcus evans Private Wealth Management APAC Summit 2010, on how mid-market companies are driving growth in Asia. (Extracted from our partner event Press Release)
What barriers are family offices in Asia facing at the moment?
Vincent Warner: There has been a significant change in the private equity landscape in Asia. Many groups which started as mid-market private equity firms have grown in size and are now concentrating on larger cap investments. Equally, many firms which established themselves, or opened offices in Asia with a buy-out strategy have eventually realised that Asia does not have as many buy-out opportunities as exist in the West; so their strategies have needed to shift towards significant minority and influence, instead of control investments.
Family offices and foundations are therefore facing difficulty in identifying groups with enough experience, a good track record over many cycles and appropriate strategies for the opportunities on the ground, to invest capital on their behalf. There is a wide range of pricing and quality of companies across Asia. Those who want to deploy capital in the region need to identify a manager who has the experience through multiple cycles to evaluate opportunities.
What investment opportunities can they take advantage of?
Vincent Warner: Asia is driven by mid-market companies. Even 75 per cent of listed companies have a market cap of less than USD 250 million. With many private equity groups moving to large cap, there is a heavy concentration of capital and funding targeting large cap deals and a shortage of experienced groups targeting mid-market companies.
Chepstow’s strategy is to focus and remain focused on mid-market companies through a series of funds, on a pan-Asian basis. There are many mid-market private equity opportunities, with two requirements: capital and the requirement for value-added input from the private equity manager. Investee companies which recognise that they have both these requirements, have only a small number of qualified private equity groups to choose from, and, Chepstow is in most cases able to obtain exclusivity before the opportunity has been shown to other private equity groups.
What sectors do you think will perform particularly well in the coming few years?
Vincent Warner: The number of consumers and their desire to see value for money and diversity of choice is growing, thus there are significant consumer driven opportunities across Asia, particularly in China. The middle-class populations are now spending money on items which are discretionary in nature, which include retail, education, entertainment, leisure and tourism.
The second area which is a strong theme for Chepstow is the development of Asian rural areas and in third and fourth tier cities, where businesses are benefitting from growth in rural economies and through government policy. We are also focused on the trade flows between countries in Asia, such as Indonesia and China, which are very active. We believe that this dynamic will continue in the future.
Across Asia, fast growing mid-cap companies, well managed with high quality operations and integrity are seeking capital to become the large cap companies of the next decade.
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