Eaton loses Asia head Lerner and Hong Kong office chief

Shanghai-based Chris Lerner and another senior executive are understood to have left the placement agent and advisory firm in August.

Eaton Partners has lost its head of Asia and global partner, at least the second senior departure from its Asia team this year, Private Equity International has learned.

Chris Lerner left the firm in August, according to two sources familiar with the matter. He spent almost a decade at Eaton where he led the origination and execution of fundraises, secondaries and strategic advisory, according to Eaton’s website. He also actively assisted in distribution in Asia.

A spokesman for Eaton did not return a request for comment. Lerner could not be reached for comment.

Lerner, who will continue to be Shanghai-based, will join a China-headquartered manager as managing partner after gardening leave and will focus on building its cross border infrastructure and operating partner bench, fundraising and talent recruitment, it is understood.

It is unclear which Chinese GP Lerner is joining.

Jackson Chan, a managing director at Eaton and head of its Hong Kong office and Asia distribution business, is also understood to have left in August. Chan confirmed his departure to PEI and said he will be focusing on his family office venture in Hong Kong. Chan first joined Eaton in 2014 as a senior vice-president and head of distribution.

Thomas Yu, a Hong Kong-based senior director at Eaton, will lead the firm’s Asia business following the departures of Lerner and Chan, the sources said.

Eaton Partners was voted placement agent of the year in Asia for four consecutive years, from 2015 to 2018 in Private Equity International’s Annual Awards. The firm won secondaries advisor of the year in Asia in PEI’s 2016 and 2018 awards. Last year, Eaton Asia secured approximately $2.5 billion of capital for GPs including Singapore-based Jungle Ventures and Chinese GPs China Renaissance Group, Loyal Valley Capital and Quan Capital.

The departures at Eaton are among a host of other senior people moves in placement and advisory firms in Asia-Pacific in recent months. Dennis Kwan, a former managing director at MVision Private Equity Advisors in Hong Kong, joined Harvest Investment Management, the PE investment arm of Chinese mutual fund manager Harvest Fund Management, as its head of investor relations in the second quarter of 2020, PEI reported on Friday.

Conrad Yan, the former vice chairman of Campbell Lutyens in Asia, left in September after almost a decade at the firm, according to his LinkedIn profile. He joined Albamen Capital Partners, a Chinese investment firm focused on renewable energy and infrastructure, in October.

Meanwhile, Eric Marchand, previously head of Unigestion’s Asia-Pacific private equity, joined Campbell Lutyens as senior advisor based in Singapore, according to his LinkedIn profile.

A spokeswoman for Campbell Lutyens confirmed the departure of Yan and the appointment of Marchand.