China's ClearVue pulls in US$262m with first private equity fund

Mainland private equity firm targets start-ups with cash from first fundraiser

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 February, 2014, 1:37am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 February, 2014, 1:37am

Mainland private-equity firm ClearVue Partners has drawn US$262 million in its maiden fundraiser, with most of the money to be spent on consumer start-ups.

The Shanghai-based firm will target early-growth consumer firms in the food and beverage, lifestyle, internet and mobile markets. It will also forge joint ventures with international brands looking to establish their presence in the highly competitive and fragmented Chinese market.

"Unlike the big players with a majority-owned investment mandate, we are minority investors with an average investment size of between US$10 million and US$20 million," managing partner William Chen told the South China Morning Post.

Chen, a former managing director at venture company DT Capital Partners, said the US-listed steakhouse chain Outback had set up a joint venture agreement with ClearVue, paving the way for the Australia-themed restaurant to tackle cultural barriers and regulatory hurdles in Shanghai and other cities on the mainland.

ClearVue's fundraising plan has pulled in a consortium of investors that includes institutions, endowments and pension funds such as Fidelity Investments and JP Morgan Asset Management, along with Hong Kong-based blue chip fund managers Emerald Hills Capital Partners and HarbourVest. They accounted for more than 60 per cent of the fund, Chen said.

Junling Liu, co-founder of mainland online retailer Yihaodian; Jackson Tai, former chairman and chief executive of DBS Bank; and Harvard professor John Quelch are on the firm's strategic advisory board.

Chen said the mainland's robust consumer market would provide a lot of trading and merger and acquisition opportunities for private equity firms looking to tap the rising middle class.

"We may consider another round of fundraising in the next 12 to 24 months, depending on market conditions," Chen said.

Funds are usually raised incrementally, giving managers financial flexibility to invest with different styles.

ClearVue was established in 2012 and has about 10 investment professionals.