GP stakes giant Blue Owl acquires Hong Kong placement firm

Ascentium founder and former Credit Suisse boss James Lee will become head of Blue Owl’s institutional sales team in Asia, per a statement seen exclusively by PEI.

Blue Owl Capital, the listed GP stakes and credit manager, has acquired Hong Kong placement business Ascentium Group, Private Equity International has learned.

Ascentium founder and chief executive James Lee will become head of Blue Owl’s institutional sales team in Asia, according to a statement seen exclusively by PEI. Lee was previously head of Asia distribution for Credit Suisse’s private fund group before his departure in 2019.

Ascentium will be renamed Blue Owl Capital HK, subject to regulatory approval, the statement said.

PEI first reported on Blue Owl’s tie-up with Ascentium, which involved the latter serving as placement agent for the former’s products in Asia, in June. Ascentium was founded last year as a joint venture with Owl Rock, the direct lending manager that merged with Dyal Capital Partners this year.

The acquisition will form Blue Owl’s ninth office globally and second in Asia, behind a recently established foothold in Singapore.

“In order to better serve our current and prospective clients globally, we are thrilled to strengthen our presence in Asia with this acquisition of Ascentium,” Blue Owl chief Douglas Ostrover said in the statement. “There is tremendous opportunity for GP stakes, direct lending and real estate solutions in the APAC region, and we look forward to bringing our unique offerings to a market that is well positioned for long-term growth.”

Lee and Ostrover were previously colleagues at Blackstone. The former is joined at Ascentium by Kwanho Choi, who led Credit Suisse’s Korean distribution activity in Seoul before his departure in H1 2020, as PEI reported.

Rita Ng, a Hong Kong-based managing director in Dyal’s business services platform, and vice-president Jeong Kim were seconded to Ascentium this year. Ng joined Dyal in 2017 and was responsible for managing its relationships with institutional investors in Asia-Pacific, according to a now-deleted profile on the Neuberger Berman website.

Blue Owl had approximately $70.5 billion of assets under management as of 30 September, which is overseen by about 300 employees globally.