StanChart appoints new co-head amid PE shake-up

Wei Zhu has replaced co-head of PE, Alastair Morrison, as three managing directors depart in a wave of cuts.

Standard Chartered Bank has appointed China-based Wei Zhu as new co-head of its private equity unit amid a wave of restructuring, a source close to the matter told Private Equity International

Zhu joined the firm as head of China from CVC Capital Partners in 2009 and replaced former co-head of private equity, Alastair Morrison, earlier this year. He will work alongside co-head Nainesh Jaisingh, who is based in the firm's Singapore office and will focus on the firm's investments in North Asia. 

Morrison, who assumed the role of vice-chairman of principal finance upon Zhu's appointment, has now retired and will leave the bank officially at the end of December 2013, the source told PEI

The news comes just as three other managing directors in Singapore and India have left Standard Chartered Private Equity (SCPE). 

The executives were confirmed as Ravinder Singh Grewal, Mukul Nag and Rahul Raisurana. In addition, senior directors at the firm Ashish Jain and Anshuman Goenka are also set to depart.

It is unclear if these departures were initiated by the bank itself, but the moves come as Standard Chartered sparks a wave of restructuring across its private equity unit, which will leave the team at 100 people across its target regions of Asia, the Middle East and Africa, the source said.

SCPE declined to comment on the matter, but Bloomberg in November cited two sources noting that the firm was planning to cut 12 percent of its private equity workforce, mostly in Asia.

A number of banks have spun out their captive GPs or reduced their exposure to alternative assets as regulatory requirements in the US and Europe become more stringent post-financial crisis.

Moreover, as growth slows and exits stall in markets such as India and China, GPs and LPs alike have been disappointed with the returns produced from the Asia Pacific region, industry sources said.

However, the cuts are “definitely not a scale-down” of its private equity activities, with the firm “still closing deals” and maintaining a strong pipeline, PEI’s source emphasised.

During 2013, SCPE invested $50 million in India-based Fortis Healthcare over two tranches, including foreign currency convertible bond and an equity investment, the firm said in an earlier statement.

In November this year, it also teamed with Boyu Capital to invest in Chinese café operator Multi Concepts Link Restaurant Management, each taking an equal share of the business. The firms did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, but SCPE confirmed at the time that each investor would get a board seat.

Standard Chartered Private Equity is the captive GP of global banking corporation Standard Chartered. The private equity unit manages around $4 billion in assets under management and invests from the bank’s balance sheet in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.