Former L Catterton Asia boss plots emerging Asia platform

Ravi Thakran is open to partnering with existing firms boasting complementary strategies and has the support of several former colleagues, he told PEI.

Ravi Thakran, former managing partner and chairman at L Catterton Asia, plans to build a private equity platform targeting consumer brands in emerging Asia’s mid-market.

Speaking in a Singapore Venture Capital & Equity Association webinar on Tuesday, Thakran said his next endeavour would lever rampant growth in Asian consumption to help regional brands expand globally.

Thakran is open to partnering with existing firms boasting complementary strategies and has the support of several former colleagues, he told Private Equity International in a follow-up phone conversation.

“I am really looking forward to building a new platform which focuses on this Asia 3.0,” he said on the webinar.

“I’m almost prepared to call it ‘Asia 3.0 Cap’, because Asia 3.0 is a phase of economic development that will be unprecedented in global history. Emerging Asia, which will provide the most stupendous growth going forward, will be my main-focus.”

Thakran, who founded L Capital Asia in 2009 before its merger with US consumer firm Catterton in 2016, confirmed that he was no longer employed at L Catterton Asia except in his capacity as chairman emeritus.

The Singapore-headquartered unit changed the key person clause on its 2017-vintage L Catterton Asia III last year before a string of senior departures, PEI reported in June. At least six managing directors are understood to have left the firm since June last year, in addition to Thakran.

L Catterton’s Asia funds have invested in companies such as Australian footwear brand RM Williams, pan-Asian restaurant chain Crystal Jade and China-listed skincare producer Guangzhou Marubi. Seafolly, an Australian swimwear business that L Catterton Asia has owned since 2014, entered voluntary administration this year under the strain of covid-19.

Thakran has rejected suggestions private equity is a poor fit for retailers.

“I believe that founder-led companies do the best,” Thakran noted on Tuesday’s webinar. “Taking [a] significant minority and […] them having very substantial skin in the game is very, very important. [We will] pivot away to new categories, pivot to more digital, but remain focused on value-add and remain focused on the fact that multiplying the EBITDA of the business is the only way to create value in the company.”

Prior to covid-19, Asia’s GDP in 2020 had been expected to overtake the GDP of the rest of the world combined, according to the World Economic Forum. The region is expected to contribute roughly 60 percent of global growth by 2030 and be responsible for 90 percent of the 2.4 billion new members of the middle class entering the global economy.

“GDP growth might suffer across the globe now because of covid-19 in the next couple of years but eventually the size of growth from Asia will remain 60 percent to 65 percent of global GDP growth,” Thakran added.

“People like us who have sector expertise in consumption, who’ve always invested only behind consumption, I think we’re most sought after going forward.”