KKR heads East

Joseph Bae will spearhead Kohlberg Kravis Roberts’ newly announced Hong Kong and Tokyo offices as the firm plans to invest across emerging and developed Asia.

On Tuesday, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts unveiled plans to open offices in Hong Kong and Tokyo.

The move follows similar paths of other large private equity groups, such as Thomas H. Lee Partners and The Blackstone Group, both of which have announced Asian investment strategies in recent months.

Joseph Bae, a managing director at KKR, will head the firm’s operations there, necessitating a move to Hong Kong that should occur at the end of the year. Justin Reizes, currently a principal at the firm, will join Bae. Reizes currently works from the firm’s London office.

The Asian markets will have a pivotal global influence in the coming decades.

Henry Kravis, KKR

The statement did not specify a head for the Tokyo office.

A spokesperson for the firm said there are not yet any plans to raise a separate Asian fund. “Our initial focus will be to build a world class team of investment and operating professionals with direct experience in a range of Asian markets, including Japan, China and Korea,” Bae said in a press release.

The announced move comes alongside news that KKR partners Edward Gilhuly and Scott Stuart are retiring from the firm. Gilhuly was integral in the firm’s launch of its European operations, occupying a role similar to Bae’s new role in opening the firm’s Asian offices.

KKR co-founder Henry Kravis said in the statement that the firm intends to use its presence in Asia to find new investment opportunities as well as allow its existing portfolio companies to benefit from its offices there.

“The Asian markets will have a pivotal global influence in the coming decades. . .” said Kravis in the statement.

In the statement, co-founder George Roberts said: “This initiative is a significant step in positioning KKR as a truly global private equity firm and will increase our competitiveness on a worldwide basis.”

According to the press release, KKR plans to target both the emerging and the well-established economies throughout the Asia Pacific region, and will pursue traditional buyout transactions, growth financings and cross-border acquisitions in partnerships with Asian businesses. With regards to its portfolio companies, the firm will pursue manufacturing, sourcing and joint venture opportunities.