Ex-Eaton boss joins former colleagues at Thrive Alts

Thomas Yu, who previously spent 18 years at UBS, departed Eaton at the back end of 2021 after a two-year stint.

Eaton’s former Hong Kong head has reunited with former colleagues at newly launched placement firm Thrive Alternatives, Private Equity International has learned.

Thomas Yu joins as managing director to provide LP coverage in the region, with a particular focus on Australia, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

Yu, who previously spent 18 years at UBS, departed Eaton at the back end of 2021 after a two-year stint as senior director, PEI reported at the time. He was replaced at Eaton by Jonathan Lee, a former six-year veteran and managing director at MVision.

A Thrive spokesman confirmed Yu’s appointment.

Yu is one of at least six Eaton alums working at or advising Thrive, according to its website. The firm was launched in 2021 by Jackson Chan, Eaton’s former head of Hong Kong and its Asia distribution business; Gianluca D’Angelo, Eaton’s former head of EMEA; and Robin Tyrangiel, a former managing director, PEI reported in September.

Thrive already employs more than 20 staff across eight markets, six of which are in Asia. These are Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. It also has a presence in London and Boston.

“Asia is arguably the fastest growing market for private capital, yet the least penetrated vis-à-vis the US and Europe, and the most difficult to access for potential clients,” D’Angelo told PEI last year. “We are building a global business but with a very strong Asia angle, with roots across the continent.”

The placement agent model has evolved in recent years to include a raft of extended advisory services and mandates, a process that has been catalysed during the pandemic by a flight to familiarity and inability to perform in-person due diligence, as PEI explored in its October deep dive.

Thrive is developing technologies to make the fundraising process more efficient. “We’re massively investing in proprietary software to basically transform an information-rich, but often piecemeal, process into a fluid, accessible, data-driven framework, which will allow us to raise capital in a much more efficient way and free up more time where it matters most – advising clients,” D’Angelo added.

“We’re not replacing human interaction and letting a machine do the work for us. We’ll still work alongside our GPs and LPs – that won’t change. But what will change is all the intelligence gathering, the flow of information and what you learn from past experience to better execute primary and secondary assignments.”

Yu’s departure from Eaton was one of several last year, with the global firm losing all senior staff in mainland China, as reported by PEI. The placement agent landscape more broadly has seen plenty of people moves during the pandemic: former Eaton boss Chris Lerner joined Chinese venture capital firm MSA; Dennis Kwan, a former managing director in MVision’s Hong Kong office, left to launch a USD platform at Harvest Investment Management; and James Lee, a Hong Kong-based principal at PJT Partners, joined Cerberus Capital Management as its head of Korea.