Macquarie execs join new Asian fund manager

Equis Funds Group, which is targeting energy and infrastructure opportunities across Asia, is understood to be in the early stages of raising a debut fund.

Equis Funds Group, a new Singapore-based pan-Asian independent fund manager, has been launched by a group of ten professionals with prior experience at the likes of Macquarie, the Asian Development Bank and AES Corporation.

The firm is understood to be in the early stages of raising a debut fund which, according to market sources, is expected to target “hundreds of millions”.

Equis is based in Singapore, with local investment professionals also located in Bangalore, India; Hong Kong; and Beijing.

The firm is spearheaded by five founding partners: David Russell, a senior managing director at Macquarie Group, where he was head of Asian private equity and Greater China; Lance Comes, former head of infrastructure and principal investments Korea and senior managing director at Macquarie Capital Group; Adam Ballin, who was a director at Denham Capital Asia Pacific and former head of acquisitions of the Macquarie Korea Infrastructure Fund; Josh Carmody, previously the head of the Asian Development Bank’s Asia Pacific Carbon Fund; and Rajpal Singh Chaudhary, formerly a partner and executive director at Assetz Group, an Indian PPP development firm. 

Russell will be joined by a team of seasoned Chinese power industry professionals in the Hong Kong and Beijing offices, while Comes, Ballin and Carmody are all based in the Singapore head office, and Chaudhary, who has a history in Indian PPP development, will look after the Bangalore office.

In conversation with Infrastructure Investor, David Russell said the establishment of independent fund managers was a response to demand from investors for “pure alignment” in the wake of the global financial crisis. “You have captives and global firms wanting to enter Asia but for an independent manager with Asian energy and infrastructure experience, it’s a unique opportunity. With Equis we are also seeing the early stages of Asian fund managers incorporating private equity and business operational experience, a trend that has been embraced in Europe and North America,” he said.

Russell added that, because of the prominence of growth opportunities, the firm would have a private equity style of investing that would typically see the firm looking to exit its investments in a four- to five-year timeframe.

He also said that there’s a “huge opportunity” in China and India, with some sectors not having benefitted from a recent influx of debt finance and where there are “proven management teams flying below the radar”. He estimated that Equis could theoretically deploy between $300 million and $500 million in China and India today based on the negotiations it is currently undertaking.