KKR's most senior China executives exit as firm plans third fund

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - KKR & Co, one of the biggest global private-equity investors in Asia, is losing the two most senior executives who helped the US fund build its China business in the past decade.

Mr David Liu, head of China and co-head of Asia private equity, and Mr Julian Wolhardt, a partner in the firm, are leaving at the end of this year to form a China-focused investment firm, the company said in a release on Tuesday (Aug 30). Mr Ming Lu, previously co-head of private-equity for Asia, has now been named sole head, and interim head of China, KKR said.

The imminent departures come as KKR aim to start by the end of this year to raise as much as US$7 billion (S$9.5 billion) in its third Asia fund, according to people familiar with the plan, who declined to be identified. The firm's second fund is already 70 per cent invested, one of the people said.

Ms Anita Davis, a Hong Kong spokesman at KKR, declined to comment on the fund-raising plan.

Before joining KKR in 2006, Mr Liu, 45, and Mr Wolhardt, 43, worked together at Morgan Stanley's private equity arm. There, they led a US$26 million acquisition of Inner Mongolia Mengniu Dairy Co in 2002 - the first foreign private-equity investment in China's dairy industry. Mr Ming Lu, who was previously with CCMP Capital Advisors LLC, also joined that year.