Carlyle assembles Asia leveraged finance team

The Carlyle Group has made three senior hires into its recently-formed Asia leveraged finance team. The division, which is based in Hong Kong, is headed by Eric Mason who joined the buyout group in May from JP Morgan.

The Carlyle Group has appointed Rahul Gupta, Royko Kondo and Agnes Kong as vice-presidents for its Asia leveraged finance group. The trio all previously worked at JP Morgan with Eric Mason, whom they will be reporting to at Carlyle.

The new hires will expand Carlyle’s leverage finance coverage across Japan, Greater China and Southeast Asia. Mason himself was appointed in May to spearhead Carlyle’s Asian leveraged finance business, which was set up to complement the private equity group’s established leveraged finance teams in the US and Europe.

The hires come amid growing fears that the US credit crunch is slowing lending to large buyouts in Asia. However, local sources are more optimistic, since leverage has been less aggressive in transactions conducted across the region compared to the US and Europe. Moreover, transaction sizes in Asia Pacific have also been relatively small compared to developed markets in the West.

Mason said the firm’s aim was to build “the premier independent leveraged finance team in Asia, to provide an additional financing source for private equity transactions and growth capital typically served only by banks.” He added: “We believe the growth of non-bank institutional investors in Asia will benefit the development of private equity in this region.”

Gupta and Kong assumed their positions at the start of August in Hong Kong, where Carlyle’s pan Asian operations is based, while Kondo, who will be based at Carlyle’s Tokyo office, will start in October.

Kondo is joining from JP Morgan’s syndicated and leveraged finance team where she was responsible for originating, structuring and syndicating debt structures for private equity transactions. Mason said: “Ryoko is among the most accomplished leveraged finance bankers in Japan.”

Gupta joined from UBS Asia fixed income research, where he covered high-yield corporate credit. Prior to this he had worked at JP Morgan for five years, most recently on its Asian leveraged finance team.

Before joining Carlyle, Kong was a senior associate focusing on Greater China at JP Morgan’s Asia leverage team. Before that, she had worked at International Finance Corporation in Washington and Goldman Sachs in New York.