Permira reallocates resources for Asian TMT push

Permira has sent one of its London-based partners, Robin Bell-Jones, to Hong Kong to lead a further push into the TMT sector in Japan, South Korea, China and South-East Asia.

European private equity firm Permira intends to increase exposure to the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) sector in Asia, and has sent London-based partner Robin Bell-Jones to Hong Kong to lead that drive.

Bell-Jones joined Permira in 1999, and became a partner last year. He is the latest addition to the Hong Kong office, which Permira has been expanding over the last year. In August 2011, Permira hired former Goldman Sachs banker Alan Chen as head of China, and Christian Paul from Alix Capital as portfolio director. Henry Chen and Alex Emery became co-heads of Asia in January last year.

Bell-Jones e will focus on TMT acquisition opportunities in Asia as well as support the international expansion efforts of Permira’s existing TMT portfolio companies in the region, the firm said.

Revenue from TMT investments has consistently accounted for less than 25 percent of the total from Permira’s global portfolio, Bell-Jones told Private Equity International. The firm is expecting the contribution from the sector to increase as it aims to make more Asia investments in Japan, South Korea and China, where it has local offices. The firm will also look into possible South-East Asian investments, he said.

In Asia, digital television, internet and IT services, software and digital education are subsectors that interest Permira. The firm has prior experience investing in these areas in Europe and the US, which could apply to similar investments in Asia, he said.

Permira invested in US-based software solutions provider Genesys in February. Last year, the firm also invested in US-based education technology provider Renaissance Learning and Spain-based online travel agency OdigeO.

Apart from direct investment, Permira would consider seeking co-investment opportunities with local partners in Asia to help mitigate investment risk, Alex Emery, co-head of Asia, said.

Last year, Permira, TPG Capital and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts formed separate partnerships with CDB Capital, a unit of state-owned China Development Bank. Permira and CDB have been seeking co-investment opportunities both in China and abroad, Emery acknowledged, but no investments have been made to date.