Credit Suisse poaches Ritchie Capital Asian team

Credit Suisse has boosted its private equity presence in Asia by hiring a team of six from hedge fund group Ritchie Capital, including new head Harjit Bhatia.

Credit Suisse Private Equity Asia has recruited a six-strong team led by Harjit Bhatia from struggling US hedge fund group Ritchie Capital, as it looks to build its private equity offering in Asia.

Bhatia, who was appointed by Ritchie in 2005 to spearhead its Asian expansion, has joined the Swiss bank as a managing partner and head of Credit Suisse Private Equity Asia. He will bring with him a team of five, comprising Hemang Raja, Rakesh Mital, Soma Ghosal Dhar, Isiah Zhang and Imelda Tham.

The latest appointments by Credit Suisse are amongst the most dramatic in Asia’s private equity market, which has seen top international buyout firms wrestle for experienced professionals and top bankers in the region.

David Blumer, chief executive officer of Credit Suisse asset management said: “This is a very exciting development for us as we expand on our private equity footprint in this important region”. Credit Suisse’s current Asian private equity business includes a joint venture with China Renaissance Capital Investment and two dedicated funds.

Bhatia was previously Asia Pacific chairman and chief executive officer of Ritchie Capital Management (Hong Kong). Prior to Ritchie, he spent eleven years at GE, most recently as president and chief executive of the corporate financial services arm in Asia.

Raja, who joins Credit Suisse as managing director, was previously head of India Operations for Ritchie. He will be based in Mumbai together with Dhar, who previously worked at Ritchie and GE’s private equity group.

The rest of their former colleagues will be based in Hong Kong. Mital, who joins as a managing director, used to work closely with Bhatia at Ritchie, in investment management and administrative functions, and was also previously at GE.

Zhang’s previous employers include strategy firm McKinsey & Co in China, while Tham used to work for The Carlyle Group’s real estate team in Washington.

The loss of the six-person team is another blow for Ritchie Capital, which last year was forced to sell the assets of its flagship hedge fund following complaints about poor performance and the use of illiquid ‘side pockets’.

Credit Suisse manages over CHF 30 billion ($24.6 billion) in private equity assets worldwide.