ICG-backed Affirma enters Asian GP-led market

The Singapore buyout shop, which spun out of Standard Chartered in one of Asia's largest secondaries deals, will initially target GP-led deals in Korea.

Affirma Capital, which was formed via one of the largest secondaries deals to take place in Asia, has entered the market as a buyer.

The Singapore-headquartered firm has been sizing up continuation fund and single-asset deals in Korea and intends eventually to branch out to other parts of Asia, Secondaries Investor has learned. The move is in response to heightened demand for secondaries from large Korean institutional investors.

It is understood that Affirma is investing on a deal-by-deal basis and may raise third-party capital in the future. It is targeting deals of around $200 million-$300 million in size and intends to be the lead investor.

Affirma was the private equity arm of Standard Chartered Bank before spinning out in 2019. Intermediate Capital Group led the transfer of a £790 million ($969 million; €921.3 million) portfolio off the bank’s balance sheet into a vehicle managed by the newly formed general partner. It also put up £316 million for follow-on investments, Secondaries Investor reported.

The portfolio comprised 35 companies across Southeast Asia, India, China, South Korea, the Middle East and Africa. Affirma is led by chief executive Nainesh Jaisingh.

While still part of Standard Chartered, the GP regularly used the secondaries market to reduce its exposure to private equity in line with new regulatory requirements. In June 2015, it sold a strip worth $700 million to buyers including Goldman Sachs Asset Management, having offloaded a $500 million strip to a consortium led by Coller Capital six months prior. Goldman and Coller are still LPs, Secondaries Investor understands.

Affirma is also launching a credit fund. The secondaries and credit unit will be led by Kim Seong-mok, a former executive with South Korea’s National Pension Service, according to The Korea Economic Daily, which first reported the news.

Asia-Pacific accounted for 5 percent of secondaries deal volume by fund type in 2021, according to investment bank Greenhill.

Affirma declined to comment.