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Capital Markets

China: Venturing off the radar

While the global credit squeeze makes large-scale private equity investments tough, China’s burgeoning corporate sector offers rich pickings for smaller funds with local know-how.

Eastern promise Duncan TK Chui, chairman of venture capital fund Sino Katalytics Investment Corporation (SKIC), is a 38-year-old, Cornell-educated former consultant now running a fund from his office in Hong Kong’s raucous Wan Chai district. Although the office sits above a Lexus showroom, his claim that it is "not flashy" is accurate enough: there’s a down-to-earth sensibility on display as Euromoney is led through to his glass-walled office, and when friend and fellow fund manager Hanson Cheah pops in from the adjoining office to join the interview, he’s dressed in jeans, slippers and lime-green shirt.

"We’ve not felt the effects of the global market slowdown much," says Chui, "because we don’t do market deals. Most of the time we’re working with people we already know, looking for opportunities in TMT [technology, media and telecommunications] and financial services. We’re sourcing funds locally, targeting retail and institutional investors with a presence in Hong Kong."

SKIC’s investors at the moment are a small group of hedge funds with a Hong Kong presence, although money might ultimately come from Europe, the US and Japan. The fund’s total assets stand at roughly HK$118 million ($15 million), a tiny amount by global standards, and although Chui says he would like to get up to about $100 million in the next three to five years, he acknowledges that this small scale is what enables funds like his to close deals when market conditions are supposedly tough.

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