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Richard Ong, one of the founders of China-focused private equity giant Hopu Investment Management, is leaving the firm launch his own $2 billion fund, according to the WSJ.Hopu launched in 2008 with $2.5 billion to invest and is in the process of winding down; the firm is said to have “reshape[d] China’s investment landscape.”
Ong’s new firm is called RRJ Capital and “will be one of the biggest funds focused on investing in Asia,” according to the WSJ.
The fund expects to raise $1.5 billion by the end of March, with the second closing for the full $2 billion by early June.
Both Ong and another Hopu founder, Fang Fenglei, are Goldman alum and the bank is an investor in Hopu.
Malaysian-born Ong was with Goldman for 15 years and co-headed the Singapore office before moving to Beijing in late 2006 and taking over as as co-head of investment banking in Asia, Bloomberg says,
His departure from the bank was surrounded by controversy because he “didn’t write Chinese well enough to take a mandatory test for senior managers” and could not be named as deputy CEO of the bank’s China joint venture, Goldman Sachs Gao Hua Securities Co.
Fenglei spearheaded Goldman’s Gao Hua Securities venture in 2004, and still owns a stake in that project. He’s been described as “a renowned Chinese rainmaker” and “consummate deal maker and political insider,” with close ties to Vice Premier Wang Qishan.
RJR will have offices in Hong Kong and Singapore, and both of Hopu’s other founders will sit on the board of the new company.
The firm, has, according to the WSJ,
[S]igned up eight investors for the first closing and has drawn interest from investors in Asia, the U.S., Canada and the Middle East.
The fund will primarily focus on investing in agriculture, food, natural resources, consumer products, and financial institutions, an investment profile broadly in line with that of Hopu. And like Hopu, it will mainly invest in Asia but will be open to deals elsewhere provided there is a strong link to regional interests.