Probitas’ Asia head departs two years after rejoining placement firm

A string of senior placement agent executives in Asia have jumped ship or moved to pastures new during the pandemic.

Probitas Partners has lost its regional head of Asia, Private Equity International understands.

Katie Chan has departed the firm around two years after being appointed managing director in Hong Kong, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Chan rejoined Probitas in 2019 from China-focused private equity firm CDH Investments, where she was an executive director responsible for fundraising and investor relations.

Chan, who also served as a director at Probitas from 2012 to 2015, is no longer listed on Probitas’s website. The exact timing of Chan’s departure is unclear, though her name appears on a cached version of the website from December.

Probitas had not responded to a request for comment by publication time. Chan could not be reached for comment by publication time.

Probitas in Asia has helped to raise funds such as the $2 billion Centurium Capital Partners 2018, a debut fund that closed in 2019; the $300 million Forebright New Opportunities Fund II, which closed the same year; and the $149 million Blue Lake Capital Fund II, which closed in 2018, according to its website.

The firm’s previous regional head of Asia, Edwin Chan, departed in 2019 after more than 10 years, according to his LinkedIn profile. He now serves as managing partner of HBridge Capital, an independent fund placement and advisory firm in Asia.

Katie Chan is the latest in a string of senior placement agent departures in Asia during the pandemic, many of whom have moved in-house. Chris Lerner, former head of Asia at Eaton Partners; Dennis Kwan, a former managing director at MVision Private Equity Advisors; and Conrad Yan, the former vice-chairman of Campbell Lutyens, are among those joining GPs over the past 12 months.

Capital has flowed to a smaller number of larger, more established funds during the pandemic as LPs seek shelter with brand names and familiar relationships. The number of funds closed last year dipped to its lowest level since 2015.

Asia has not been immune to this trend. Only 113 Asia-focused private equity funds held final closes last year, down from 170 in 2019, according to PEI data. The average fund size climbed to $454 million in 2020 from $411 million the previous year.

Although placement agents’ economics can vary by firm and client, income is typically earned from either a percentage of capital they raise directly, a percentage of capital raised from a list of target investors or a percentage of the overall fund size. Emerging managers – for whom fundraising can be more of a challenge – may pay a premium.

“The opportunity cost of leaving is now much lower because everyone can look at their book and know what they can expect to be paid at the end of the year,” an executive who formerly served as a placement agent in Hong Kong told PEI last year. “A lot of senior people are looking for something new and it’s a good time to move.”