Permira acquires Unitas China team

With this acquisition, the London-based buyout firm has established its first mainland China presence.

Permira has acquired the Shanghai-based team of Asian private equity firm Unitas Capital as it looks to enhance its China operations.

The five member team led by Jim Tsao joined Permira in January and will remain in Shanghai, according to a Permira spokesperson. No assets were acquired in the deal.

It is understood that Unitas has also cancelled plans for a fourth fund.

“The transition of the Shanghai team is a win-win for all parties,” Unitas chief executive John Lewis and Permira's head of Asia Alex Emery said in a joint statement.

“The team continues to provide active engagement and support to the Unitas portfolio and Permira gains a proven and successful Shanghai team that has an extensive track record in making control investments in China.”

It wasn't clear how much Permira paid to acquire the Unitas team, and the deal took several weeks to close.

The Shanghai team is in a transition period winding down Unitas' $1.2 billion Asia Opportunity Fund III. Unitas manages three buyout funds with $4 billion in assets under management, according to PEI's Research and Analytics division.

The team will also work to deploy Permira's current buyout fund sourcing opportunities in China where Permira is active. Permira V is the firm's 2014-vintage €5.3 billion fund that focuses on technology, consumer, industrials, healthcare and financial services, according to PEI Research.

Unitas' China team is experienced in controlled buyouts and has a deep network in the region, which is attractive to Permira, according to the spokesperson.

Hong Kong-headquartered Unitas focuses on buyout and growth opportunities in the industrial and consumer and retail sectors in China and Korea.

Permira's other Asian offices include Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul, and the acquisition of the Unitas team gives the buyout firm a mainland China presence.

Founded in 1985, Permira manages €25 billion in committed capital and employs 200 people in 14 offices globally spanning Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia, according to its website.