Exclusive: MVision founder moves to Asia

Fund placement specialist Mounir Guen has relocated from London to Hong Kong to better access capital formation opportunities across Asia Pacific

Mounir ‘Moose’ Guen, the founder and CEO of global private equity placement firm MVision, has moved from his long-standing base in London to lead the strategic expansion of MVision’s Asia-Pacific business from Hong Kong, PEI has learned.

Guen told PEI in an interview that the decision to base himself in Asia-Pacific had come in recognition of the region’s enormous growth potential for private equity and related investment strategies.

He said: “We are seeing an extremely broad spectrum of activity here. Asia is the world’s most dynamic economic region now, which will not reverse, and it’s difficult to see many limitations on the opportunity for private equity to scale up. For me personally, the convenience of Hong Kong to access this opportunity more fluidly is irresistible. It was important to put myself into the fabric of the region.”

Guen said the progress of local managers with the ability to raise large funds, the evolution of regional institutions as prominent investors in private markets and also the desire of international limited partners to gain better access to Asian opportunities were the three fundamental trends informing the decision. The firm already has regional offices in Hong Kong and Sydney.

It also has an office in New York and is preparing to open another in San Francisco in the autumn as the firm looks to engage more fully with managers and investors on both the East and West coast.

Commenting about the current North American market dynamic, Guen said: “There’s great vibrancy in the market right now, with some of the largest private equity programmes in the world trying to figure out how to re-invest the exceptional distributions they’ve been receiving. You have a deeply experienced and highly specialised population of managers in the US. These groups are humming right now, and they’re also producing very interesting spin-outs and restructurings, which makes it an excellent moment for us as well.”

At the same time as planning expansion in Asia Pacific and North America, MVision will remain centrally managed from its London headquarters, where Guen will oversee and continue to work with the firm’s European clients.

Guen founded MVision in 2001 after spending 13 years working in the then industry-leading fund placement business at Merrill Lynch. Since its inception, the firm has built a reputation for advising on complex fundraising mandates and working with new managers around the world.

According to Guen, over 50 percent of completed fundraisings by the firm have been for first-time managers. MVision has raised and is raising capital for managers in every continent, including in emerging private equity markets such as Brazil, Peru, Turkey, Russia, India, Greater China, the Middle East and Africa.

In Asia, existing client relationships include ICICI Venture in India; Standard Chartered spin-out KV Asia in Singapore; Headland Capital Partners in Hong Kong, Greater China-focused Zoyi Capital, Australian special situations specialist Anchorage Capital Partners; as well as Australian industry pioneers CHAMP Private Equity, amongst others. Earlier this year, MVision helped large pan-Asian investor Affinity Equity Partners raise $3.8 billion for its latest fund.

Asked whether China or India constituted the more compelling private equity opportunity in the region today, Guen said they were level pegging in terms of attractiveness and dynamism.

He also said the private equity investment model would to need adapt in Asia in order to best accommodate the investment opportunities opening up in the region: “You’ll find that the five-to-ten year partnership structure won’t always fit. It’ll require innovation, and we want to be at the centre of the structuring, development and execution of complex and challenging mandates.”