Exclusive: Hamilton Lane loses Asia MD

Hong Kong-based director Josh Kahn has departed as the firm strives to localise its Asia team.

Josh Kahn, managing director at Hamilton Lane in Asia, has left after almost eight years at the firm, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

Kahn, who originally joined the firm in the US, set up Hamilton Lane's Hong Kong office and was one of the firm's leading forces in its Asia investment team. 

His departure has not triggered a key man event, but is a result of Hamilton Lane's recent commitment to localising its Asia team, industry sources say.

“Josh was the one that was parachuted from the US to lead the Asia portion of their story, before [head of Asia] Juan [Delgado-Moreira] came over,” one industry source told Private Equity International.

“In a way, Josh’s departure is quite unexpected. [But they feel] they need to localise and find the right people to grow.”

Another source close to the matter added that Kahn was given the option to move back to the US if he’d stayed at Hamilton Lane, but could not stay in Asia as his task of setting up the Hong Kong presence for the firm was complete.

“It had been in the works for a while. He had been here five years, the business is mature so his job is done, effectively, and the choice for him would be to go back to the US headquarters and do something else,” the source said.

As well as Kahn, one of PEI’s sources added that vice president at the firm Mei-ni Yang had also left in mid-2013. PEI understands that a junior member of the team also recently left the firm.

“All these guys come from the due diligence and investment side. The fundraising side has been less impacted,” he noted, adding that his own firm is currently working with Hamilton Lane and has noticed no material impact on its day-to-day operations following Kahn’s departure.

Hamilton Lane’s efforts to localise were demonstrated in late January, when the firm said it hired Mingchen Xia from Tokio Marine Asset Management as principal on the fund investment team.

Xia is native Chinese and speaks fluent Japanese, the firm said in a statement at the time.

Hamilton Lane was unavailable for comment by press time. 

Kahn’s team managed about $2.6 billion in a global direct and co-investment programme, according to his LinkedIn profile.

“Departures at the senior level are always not to be taken lightly and can have meaningful impacts on the business of a specific platform, especially if the platform itself is relatively new in the region,” one Hong Kong-based GP, that has worked closely with Hamilton Lane, said.

Another source added, “The industry [in Asia] is still not really mature in terms of the number of people locally who know how [private equity] operates. We need to rely to a bigger extent on expats. If you look at most funds of funds, yes they’ve been here for a while, but they’re still not really local.”

A fourth source added that Kahn had been “very unhappy” at the firm, although declined to provide specific details.

Hamilton Lane has built up a strong presence in Asia, while other funds of funds have dropped away or consolidated. The firm manages over $170 billion in assets globally.

“I find [the departures] a bit odd, because if I were to look at different funds of funds or advisory platforms, Hamilton Lane is pretty much as strong as it gets in terms of funding and clients, both in Asia and globally,” one Singapore-based source told PEI.  

Sources said Kahn is in the process of setting up his own advisory business in Asia, although details were not revealed because he is in negotiations.