Asian bankers switch to private equity

The increasing attractiveness of building a career in Asia’s burgeoning private equity market is apparent from several recent hires: just don’t expect Goldman Sachs to applaud the trend.

In Asia’s latest high-profile move out of investment banking and into private equity, Rajiv GhataliaGoldman Sachs’ co-head of investment banking in the region – has left to join global private equity group Warburg Pincus. Before being promoted to his most recent position three years ago, Ghatalia was head of Goldman’s financial institutions group in Asia.
Ghatalia has moved quickly through the ranks at Goldman, where he had spent the last 11 years, and it is understood his departure will be viewed as a major blow. All the more so since another senior Goldman Sachs banker, Frank Tang – who was head of the Asian technology group – recently left to join Temasek Holdings, the investment arm of the Government of Singapore.

A report in the Financial Times said that Goldman is moving to fill the gaps through a number of management changes being planned by Michael Evans, the former global co-head of equities who took over as chairman of Goldman Sachs Asia in January.

Goldman is not the only major banking group nursing wounds as a result of private equity’s sudden appeal. In South Korea, Lee Jae-Woo, a senior banker at Lehman Brothers in Seoul, recently left to join Bogo, a private equity start-up aiming to raise up to $1 billion. Established private equity groups such as Carlyle Group and Newbridge Capital have also been boosting their teams with emigres from the investment banking world.

The hiring spree is taking place as investors target the fledgling Asian private equity markets in search of higher returns than they could achieve in the US or Europe. Last year, Asian private equity fundraising topped $10 billion, compared with $3.3 billion in 2003.