General Atlantic appoints former Carlyle MD as China head

Eric Zhang was previously a global partner and managing director at Carlyle.

Growth equity firm General Atlantic has hired Eric Zhang, a former managing director and global partner of The Carlyle Group, to lead its operations in China, the firm said in a statement.

He replaces Jeff Leng who was a managing director at the Hong Kong office and led the firm’s China and North-East Asia practice since 2007. He had recently left the firm, Private Equity International has learned.

Zhang was named managing director and head of China at General Atlantic after spending almost a decade at Carlyle where he worked as global partner and managing director focused on Asia buyout opportunities. In his new role, Zhang will be responsible for overseeing the growth firm’s investments in Greater China.

General Atlantic has invested $1.5 billion in China since 2000. Among its transactions are investments in technology company Lenovo Group, Shanghai-based Wuxi PharmaTech, discount-buying website, hotpot restaurant chain Xiabu Xiabu, tea retailer Tenfu, hypermarket retail chain Sun Art Retail Group and auto dealership chain Zhongsheng Group.

Zhang is currently on the board of directors of China’s largest classified ads website and has previously served on the boards of China Reading, NYSE-listed real estate portal Soufun and hospitality group Plateno. Before Carlyle, Zhang was vice president of the M&A Group at Credit Suisse.

“We are excited to build upon our 16 years of experience partnering with leading entrepreneurs and growth companies in China,” said Bill Ford, chief executive officer of General Atlantic. “Eric's impressive track record in Asia, deep local expertise, and proven ability to invest in and partner with outstanding companies make him an ideal leader for our local team and long-term efforts in China.”

General Atlantic manages close to $18 billion of assets. It has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mumbai.

It acquired energy and commodities reporting company Argus in May and made a minority investment in Australian fashion brand Zimmerman in April, as reported by PEI.