Mekong adds ex-CEO as partner

The Vietnam-based firm has hired Chad Ovel, who brings in operational expertise as the firm raises a new country fund.

Chad Ovel, a former CEO who has been working in Vietnam for 17 years, has joined Mekong Capital as partner, the firm has revealed.

Ovel was previously the chief executive officer of AA Corp, an interior furnishings manufacturer and construction company and former Mekong portfolio company. According to Chris Freund, managing partner, Ovel helped spark the performance of AA. 

“AA was a struggling company, barely breaking even and in the first year Chad came in everything started to turn around,” Freund said. 

During the five-year period after he joined, AA’s revenues and EBITDA grew more than 50 percent annually, according to Mekong. 

Mekong has spent the last few years building operational expertise and is renewing emphasis on value creation.

Chris Freund, managing partner, Mekong Capital

Prior to AA, Ovel worked at ScanCom Vietnam, the world’s largest manufacturer of outdoor wood furniture. He served in several roles, eventually becoming the managing director responsible for 6,000 employees.

Ovel is the firm’s first new partner since it was established in 2001. Since then, Mekong had been operating in a hierarchical structure, with everyone reporting to Freund.  

“Now we’re re-orienting to more of a partnership structure,” Freund said. 

Mekong has also spent the last few years building operational expertise and is renewing emphasis on value creation, Freund said. 

The firm is raising its third fund, Mekong Enterprise Fund III, with a target of $150 million, according to PEI’s Research & Analytics division.

Mekong Capital, based in Ho Chi Minh City, is a Vietnam-focused private equity firm targeting consumer-driven businesses. Mekong has completed 25 investments in Vietnam, of which 11 have been fully exited and 3 have been partially exited, according to the firm.