KKR appoints new head of greater China

Paul Yang’s appointment comes barely a month after KKR expanded its Asia-Pacific senior leadership team.

Private equity powerhouse KKR has hired Paul Yang, current president and chief executive officer of Taipei-based China Development Financial Corporation, as the firm’s greater China head, according to a statement.

Yang will join KKR in its Hong Kong office in January 2017. He will replace David Liu, the firm’s current head of China and co-head of Asia private equity. Liu and KKR partner Julian Wolhardt are leaving the firm at the end of the year to set up their own China-focused firm, KKR said in August.

As president and chief executive of CDFC, Yang led the firm’s investments and operations in Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, Seoul, Singapore, Bangkok, and Jakarta. He was also instrumental in restructuring the firm’s then-proprietary PE operations into an asset management franchis

Last month, KKR bolstered its senior team with new hires as it prepares to launch its third Asian buyout fund, which is targeting $7 billion, by the end of the year. Ex-CITIC Group managing director Zhen Ji is now the managing director of KKR China, former McKinsey & Co chief operating officer Hyoung Seok is MD of KKR Korea, and Ashish Shastry, an ex-managing partner of Northstar Group, is the new head of South-East Asia.

Yang’s main responsibility is to build KKR’s China business, a market where the firm has deployed approximately $3 billion in equity across asset classes as of August 2016. KKR opened its Beijing office in 2008 and has since made several investments in the country including dairy producer Modern Dairy; water treatment and recycling solutions provider United Envirotech; Yuehai Feed Group, China’s largest manufacturer of high-end special aquatic feed products; Fujian Sunner Development, a vertically integrated chicken meat producer; and integrated pork company COFCO Meat.

“As we head into our next decade of investing in China, we plan to continue to expand our scope of investments to include more mid-cap buyouts, cross-border deals and opportunities related to the domestic consolidation there, as well as in continuing to participate in growth-oriented investments,” Joseph Bae, managing partner of KKR Asia, said in a statement.

KKR co-founder Henry Kravis also said earlier this year that the firm would continue to zero in on Asia’s rising middle class and its growing demand for safer, healthier food.

“As people are moving up the income scale, demand for safer food and better services will rise,” he said while speaking at a Women’s Foundation event in Hong Kong.