Lunar Capital boosts its operations team(2)

The China-focused buyout firm has added two sector partners to its operations team, who will focus on making operational changes to the firm’s recent investments.

Lunar Capital has announced the addition of two members to the firm’s operations team: Vincent Sun as sector partner for high-end consumer products, and Simon Liu as sector partner for the beverage industry. Both will be based in Shanghai, according to the firm.

Sun joins Lunar Capital from Parker Pens, the luxury pen business owned by Newell Rubbermaid Group, where he was the China general manager for seven years. Sun is expected to become the general manager of Lunar’s recently formed joint venture I Pinco Pallino Asia, a childrenswear marketer and distributor in China and six other Asian countries, according to the statement.

Liu is already a Lunar employee, but has now been promoted to sector partner. He is currently the chief executive of Lunar portfolio company Joysun, a maker of walnut-flavoured beverage products based in Dazhou, Sichuan Province. Prior to joining Lunar, Liu was general manager of Vitasoy, China, and director of sales development for Coca-Cola in China.

Lunar Capital is one of the few private equity firms in China focused solely on control deals, and is looking to close a several more deals in the coming months. As such the firm has been “aggressively trying to expand [its] operations team”, according to managing partner Derek Sulger.

“We have very clear operational goals – there are specific things we want to do at every stage of the investment,” Sulger told Private Equity International. “So we wanted to bring on people with the specific ability to run businesses.”

It is rare for a China firm to have operational expertise in-house, added Steven Li of the operations team – most prefer to outsource it to other providers. However, Lunar takes pride in its due diligence process and having its partners get to know the business intimately.

“We want to leverage our people’s expertise after they’ve been involved in assessing the business,” Li said.

Sun also said being part of Lunar Capital would give him an advantage as the chief executive of IPP, because he will have a much closer interaction with the overall strategy of the business, and can better understand where Lunar would like to take the entire business.

After working with multinationals for 20 years, Sun felt that he wanted to move to different platforms, and thought private equity would be a good way to stretch his expertise. “Lunar’s [investments] are mostly in the mid-market sector, so there’s much more space to improve the company,” he said.