Moh joins Hong Kong’s VIAM to launch into private credit

Former EmergeVest co-founder will launch an Asia private credit fund focused on providing financings for SMEs in Asia-Pacific.

VI Asset Management, a Hong Kong-based asset manager, has launched a new private credit platform with the hire of 20-year finance industry veteran Roger Moh as managing director and head of capital solutions.

Speaking exclusively to Private Debt Investor, Moh said he had been thinking about launching a new manager but “was introduced to VIAM’s chief executive [Larry Xin] and came to appreciate that the firm had solid infrastructure. It takes a lot of hard work to get the infrastructure right, and they were ready to support us”.

Moh previously co-founded Hong Kong-based fund manager EmergeVest with Heath Zarin in 2013. The firm began investing its first Asia private credit and special situations fund in 2014, which it fully exited in 2018 with a 17 percent net internal rate of return and 1.7 times distribution to paid-in capital.

Moh said he had decided to move on from EmergeVest after it decided to focus on logistics, whereas Moh wanted to continue making private credit investments. Joining him at VIAM are EmergeVest’s former managing director and general counsel, Kit Mak, who joins VIAM in the same capacity, and IR director, Sam Clothier, who joins VIAM as executive director, business development.

The new platform at VIAM will focus on supporting SMEs in the Asia-Pacific region, with an approach that is industry-agnostic but geared towards traditional industries that are viewed as more defensive and stable such as manufacturing services, logistics and non-discretionary consumer. Target companies are likely to have been in existence for some time and be looking for capital to help them to the next stage of growth.

Moh adds that the firm will seek to professionalise and institutionalise firms run by entrepreneurs, with ESG being one area where it can bring added value. It will typically invest in companies with EBITDA between $10 to $50 million, thus avoiding the bigger funds in the region. The strategy will focus mainly on the region’s developed markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and Japan, with a selective approach to Southeast Asia.

Moh and his team are in the process of setting up and raising an Asian SME-focused fund but prior to launch, they will start making investments using the firm’s proprietary capital. These investments will be used to anchor the fund, providing investors with a diversified portfolio upon launch.

Prior to co-founding EmergeVest, Moh worked in private credit investment for Credit Suisse and HSBC. In all, he has been involved in the Asia private credit and special situations markets for the last 16 years.