PPM Ventures, the private equity unit of UK insurance group Prudential, has announced that it is to streamline its Asian operations, closing three of the firm’s four Asia Pacific offices.
The offices affected by the decision are Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo. A source close to the firm, who declined to be named, said the Seoul and Singapore offices would close at the end of the year, while the Tokyo office would close in the first quarter of 2004.
A number of professionals from the closing offices will relocate to Hong Kong, while others will be leaving the company. “The firm will continue to make investments across the region from its offices in Hong Kong,” the source said, “and existing investments will also be managed from there.”
The decision to close the Japanese office comes less than a year after the firm appointed Andrew Liu, as a senior representative in the Tokyo office. Stewart Homler, chief representative of PPM Ventures Limited (Japan), said at the time that the appointment reflected the firm’s “commitment to the Japanese market and the Asia Pacific region as a whole.”
Four months ago PPM announced its first exit in Asia, achieving what was described as “a strong multiple” on the sale of a 65 per cent stake in Japanese logistics company, Vantec Corporation to Mizuho Capital Partners MBO Fund, marking Japan’s first secondary buyout. PPM and 3i had backed the original $128m MBO of Vantec, a former Nissan Motors subsidiary, in January 2001.
PPM Ventures first established a presence in Asia in 1997 and has focused mainly on leveraged buyouts investing over $300m in the Asia-Pacific region in 20 transactions. In Japan, PPM Ventures has committed almost $100m in direct investments and private equity funds.
In 1998, PPM acquired Catalyst Investment Managers, the Australian mid-market buyout firm. In January 2000 the firm announced the successful raising of the Catalyst Fourth Buyout Fund above target at its first and only closing, raising A$180m. There are no plans to change the set up of the Sydney-based firm.
The firm’s European division has been active in recent months, announcing the acquisition of discount department store chain TJ Hughes for £56m and the exit of clothes retailer Oasis for £152m.