Credit Suisse loses Korea fundraising veteran

The bank’s private fund group has had two high-profile departures in less than a year amid a wider exodus of placement agents within Asia.

A veteran of Credit Suisse’s private fund group in South Korea has left the firm, Private Equity International understands.

Kwanho Choi, who led PFG’s Korean distribution activity from Seoul and was the unit’s only representative in the country at the time, departed in H1 2020, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter. He joined the investment bank in 2007, per his LinkedIn profile.

This is the second high-profile departure from Credit Suisse’s placement agent business in less than a year. James Lee, who had served as head of Asia distribution in Hong Kong since 2016, left last December, according to his LinkedIn.

Lee’s and Choi’s destinations are unclear. Credit Suisse declined to comment.

Credit Suisse’s PFG has raised more than $515 billion of capital across 380 funds since 1994, according to its website. The unit employs 77 staff in eight offices, including Hong Kong and Sydney.

Asia placement agents have seen a rash of departures since the onset of covid-19. Chris Lerner, former head of Asia and a Shanghai-based partner at Eaton Partners, left in August to join an unnamed Chinese GP. Dennis Kwan, a former managing director in MVision Private Equity Advisors’ Hong Kong office, departed earlier this year to launch a USD platform at Beijing’s Harvest Investment Management.

Conrad Yan, the former vice-chairman of Campbell Lutyens in Asia, left in September to join Albamen Capital Partners, a Chinese investment firm focused on renewable energy and infrastructure.

Some placement agent activities, such as capital introduction and fundraising, have been heavily impacted by the pandemic. As of May, just under half of GPs surveyed by PEI said they were expecting delays to the final closes on their funds of more than three months.

Emerging managers, which typically pay a premium for these services, are at a particular disadvantage. As of August, almost 90 percent of such firms believed the pandemic would make fundraising at least moderately more challenging, while 66 percent said it would become “a lot” or “a great deal” more difficult, per the latest Emerging Manager Survey conducted by sister publication Buyouts.