EMP acquires PAMA in Asia

PAMA Group, formerly Prudential Asset Management Asia, has been acquired by the US-headquartered emerging markets private equity firm EMP Global to “aggressively position” the latter’s Asia operations.

Washington, DC-headquartered EMP Global has purchased a stake in the PAMA Group, with the intention of merging the newly acquired group into EMP’s existing operations on the Asian private equity front, according to a press statement released today. Financial details of the transaction were not addressed in the statement.

According to the statement, PAMA chief executive and chairman Michael Kwee will head up EMP’s Hong Kong-based operations in Asia. Kwee will serve as vice chairman of EMP Asia alongside EMP chairman Moeen Qureshi, who will act as chairman of EMP Asia.

“PAMA is one of the pioneers in the Asian private equity business and under Michael’s leadership has a long history of successful investments,” Qureshi was quoted as stating in the press release. “The PAMA team’s skills in the buy-out and growth capital business will complement our own team and allow EMP Asia to aggressively position itself to develop new business in Asia.”

The institutional roots of PAMA date back to 1986, when the firm was established as Prudential Asset Management Asia, an indirect subsidiary of Prudential Insurance Company of America. Prior to its affiliation with Prudential, the firm was wholly-owned by Kwee.

After a management buyout in November 2000, the group was given its current PAMA name and has been operating independently of Prudential. Soon after the PAMA spinout, Prudential sold in March 2002 the management company of its $246 million Asia Infrastructure Mezzanine Capital Fund (AIMCF). The company was renamed the Darby Asia Investors Limited (DAI) upon its acquisition by Washington-headquartered emerging markets private equity firm Darby Overseas, which now manages the AIMCF. 

To date, PAMA has made over 100 investments through the more than $1.3 billion in private equity funds that the firm has managed. Most recently, PAMA partnered with NIF-SMBC Ventures to raise a $155 million mid cap buyout fund in Japan, which closed in September 2005.  PAMA operates out of offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Japan.

Meanwhile, EMP manages $6.5 billion through eight private equity funds – primarily infrastructure-focused – that target Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. The firm has been active in Asia since 1994, with the creation of EMP’s first fund, the $1.08 billion AIG Asian Infrastructure Fund (Asia I). The $1.67 billion successor fund to Asia I was established in 1997; according to the EMP website, its AIG Asian Infrastructure Fund II was “at that time the region’s largest pool of private equity capital.”

According to the press statement, the management of EMP’s current funds in Asia will remain unchanged following the PAMA acquisition. EMP’s first Asia fund is headed Asia I chief executive Rauf Diwan, while Asia II is headed by Asia II chief executive Wilfried Kaffenberger. Both Diwan and Kaffenberger are managing directors of EMP and based at the firm’s Washington, DC office.