Vista Equity plants first overseas flag in Hong Kong

Stephen Seelbach, a managing director who previously ran the firm’s Asia strategy from San Francisco, oversaw the launch.

Vista Equity Partners, the world’s seventh-largest private equity firm according to the PEI 300, has established its first overseas outpost in Hong Kong.

Vista’s Hong Kong business was registered with the Special Administrative Region’s Securities and Futures Commission on 10 February, public filings show. It is staffed by Dawan Koo, a former director at credit specialist Värde Partners, who joined in a fundraising and investor relations capacity last year, according to LinkedIn.

The launch was overseen by managing director Stephen Seelbach, who previously ran the firm’s Asia strategy from San Francisco, according to his profile on the company website. Seelbach was chief of staff to Vista founder Robert Smith from 2014 to 2019, and before that spent 14 years at Morgan Stanley, most recently as Asia-Pacific head of the financial sponsors group.

It is unclear whether Seelbach has relocated to Hong Kong.

Texas-headquartered Vista has previously operated out of the US and its Vista Consulting Group has a bureau in Singapore, according to its website. The firm has one portfolio company headquartered in Asia – Indian telecommunications giant Jio.

In 2020, Vista launched a joint venture with IT network NEC to deliver enterprise software solutions from Vista’s portfolio of companies to the Japanese market, per an NEC statement at the time.

Vista is seeking up to $24 billion for its eighth vehicle, which will target 18 to 25 investments, with an average cheque size of $750 million, The Wall Street Journal reported. The firm collected $17.1 billion for its 2018-vintage Fund VII, according to PEI data.

Hong Kong has been making efforts in recent years to increase its appeal to private equity firms, by steps including the introduction of a Limited Partnership Fund regime and tax concessions for carried interest. The Special Administrative Region was Asia’s largest private equity hub outside mainland China as of end-2020, with around 580 firms and approximately $170 billion in capital under management.

A spokesperson for Vista declined to comment.

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