Former dealmaker ready for new fund

Andrew Kuo now helps Taiwanese invest in the mainland after leaving Blackstone

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 April, 2013, 5:24am

A former top dealmaker for Blackstone in Asia is now a private equity fund manager dedicated to helping wealthy Taiwanese investors pour capital into mainland businesses amid warming cross-strait economic relations.

Andrew Kuo, a former Hong Kong-based senior managing director for Blackstone, left the world's largest alternative asset management house earlier this year, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Kuo, who also held the position at Blackstone of vice-chairman for greater China, which comprises the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, would remain as a part-time adviser to the firm, the sources added. He joined Blackstone in 2007.

Since leaving Blackstone, Kuo has been busy with the launch of his new private equity fund, aiming to raise hundreds of millions of dollars. The fund, whose investors are mainly from Taiwan, would focus on making investments in the mainland, said the sources, who declined to be identified before an official announcement of the establishment of the fund is made.

At Blackstone, Kuo played a key role in private equity investments in Asia, in particular China. Before joining Blackstone, he was one of the most senior bankers for JP Morgan in Hong Kong and for Citigroup in Taiwan. He also served on the advisory committee of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

"I think he has something unique to offer about mainland China and Taiwan," said one of the sources close to Kuo. "He is well connected in Taiwan. Everybody in the financial community knows him. He also knows many entrepreneurs and government officials."

In Taiwan, Kuo was described by the media as one of the "most powerful merger and acquisition experts" on the island for some landmark local transactions, including the creation of Cathay United Bank by merging several small banks.

Besides raising money from Taiwan and investing in the mainland, Kuo would also help mainland investors look for deal opportunities in Taiwan, said the sources.

Once at the brink of war, Taiwan and the mainland have strengthened their ties since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008. Ma was re-elected last year. More recently, Taiwan agreed to allow mainland lenders to own up to 20 per cent of some financial institutions on the island. Beijing welcomed the move as President Xi Jinping also pledged to promote exchanges across the Taiwan Strait.

Kuo is not the first Taiwanese fund manager to focus on investments in the mainland. In 2010, former deputy economics minister Yang Shih-chien worked with several state-owned enterprises on the mainland to jointly raise a multibillion-yuan onshore private equity fund.