CLSA launches special situations platform – exclusive

Months after launching its first structured credit platform, CLSA expands further into private debt with the formation of a separate special situations unit.

CLSA Capital Partners has hired former managing director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, David Lee, to create a dedicated special situations platform, according to market sources.

The platform will make private debt and special situations investments across Asia Pacific with a focus on emerging markets. It will initially invest with the company’s own balance sheet, according to the sources.

PDI also understands that Lee’s team will be separate from the group’s structured credit team, led by Gregory Park, the former structured credit head at Carlyle Asia, which launched in April.

CLSA declined to comment on the developments.

Prior to joining CLSA, Lee had worked at Merrill Lynch for more than 15 years. He was most recently the firm’s Asia head of global credit and special situations group (GCSS) where he managed a team of 28 professionals across the region, according to Linkedin. GCSS invests and trades in a wide variety of credit and hybrid instruments spanning from investment grade bonds and loans, high yield and distressed assets.

CLSA has also hired Vaibhav Totla as the head of research for the new platform. Before joining CLSA, Totla was the senior investment manager and the head of India investments at Noble Strategic Investors, the investment arm of the global supply chain manager Noble group. He was responsible for sourcing, analysing and executing primary and secondary credit investments in the commodity supply chain globally, according to Linkedin.

Before that, Totla had been with Merrill Lynch for a total of nine years in which he had worked with Lee at the special situations group for more than four years, PDI understands.

CLSA Capital Partners, the long-time private equity and real estate investor which manages more than $3 billion of assets, made its foray into private credit back in April when formed a joint venture with Lending Ark Capital, an alternative investment firm founded in 2015, to invest in structured credit across Asia Pacific.