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Eaton loses Asia head Lerner and Hong Kong office chief

The placement agent and advisory firm had worked on secondaries deals including the yuan to dollar restructuring of assets managed by Loyal Valley Capital.

Eaton Partners has lost its head of Asia and global partner, at least the second senior departure from its Asia team this year, sister title Private Equity International has learned.

Chris Lerner left the firm in August, according to two sources familiar with the matter. He spent almost a decade at Eaton where he led the origination and execution of fundraises, secondaries and strategic advisory, according to Eaton’s website. He also actively assisted in distribution in Asia.

A spokesman for Eaton did not return a request for comment. Lerner could not be reached for comment.

Lerner, who will continue to be Shanghai-based, will join a China-headquartered manager as managing partner after gardening leave and will focus on building its cross border infrastructure and operating partner bench, fundraising and talent recruitment, it is understood.

It is unclear which Chinese GP Lerner is joining.

Jackson Chan, a managing director at Eaton and head of its Hong Kong office and Asia distribution business, is also understood to have left in August. Chan confirmed his departure to PEI and said he will be focusing on his family office venture in Hong Kong. Chan first joined Eaton in 2014 as a senior vice-president and head of distribution.

Thomas Yu, a Hong Kong-based senior director at Eaton, will lead the firm’s Asia business following the departures of Lerner and Chan, the sources said.

Eaton Partners was selected by voters as Secondaries Advisor of the Year in Asia in the PEI Awards 2018. The firm had worked on the yuan to dollar restructuring of a portfolio of assets held by Loyal Valley Capital which involved stakes in early stage healthcare companies and Chinese “unicorns”. Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC backed the deal, among others, and the transaction was worth at least $500 million.

The departures at Eaton are among a host of other senior people moves in placement and advisory firms in Asia-Pacific in recent months. Dennis Kwan, a former managing director at MVision Private Equity Advisors in Hong Kong, joined Harvest Investment Management, the PE investment arm of Chinese mutual fund manager Harvest Fund Management, as its head of investor relations in the second quarter of 2020, PEI reported on Friday.

Conrad Yan, the former vice-chairman of Campbell Lutyens in Asia, left in September after almost a decade at the firm, according to his LinkedIn profile. He joined Albamen Capital Partners, a Chinese investment firm focused on renewable energy and infrastructure, in October.

Meanwhile, Eric Marchand, previously head of Unigestion’s Asia-Pacific private equity, joined Campbell Lutyens as senior advisor based in Singapore, according to his LinkedIn profile.

A spokeswoman for Campbell Lutyens confirmed the departure of Yan and the appointment of Marchand.