Ex-Goldman Asia Banker Zhang Joins Chinese PE Firm

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Zhang Yi, former co-head of Goldman Sachs’ (GS.N) Asia Special Situations Group (ASSG), has joined a Chinese private equity firm to run a newly established $400 million fund, sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

Zhang, a top China dealmaker, helped Wall Street bank Goldman to make high-profile investments in China, including meat processor Shuanghui (000895.SZ) and Western Mining (601168.SS), during his days with Goldman’s ASSG in the past few years.

Zhang left Goldman earlier this year and recently joined as a partner of Shanghai-based Trust Bridge, a fund launched in late 2008 with a focus on high-growth Chinese private enterprises, said the sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

“He has high influence and good reputation for dealmaking in China and it is natural for him to follow the industry trend to join the private equity world after his long-time investment banking career,” said one of the sources.

“And of course, it’s good for you to join when the market has not yet fully recovered, which means there are still quite a lot of opportunities for you,” he added.

A Goldman spokesman confirmed to Reuters that Zhang, who joined Goldman in 1994, retired from the firm in February.

The sources declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to the media. Trust Bridge was not immediately available for comment.

EX-GOLDMAN DEALMAKERS

Trust Bridge was founded by several industry veterans, including Zhou Donglei, a former senior executive for a leading Chinese internet firm, Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd (SNDA.O), said the sources.

Zhou worked for an Asia fund of Japan’s Softbank (9984.T) and Morgan Stanley (MS.N) before she joined Shanda in 2003.

One of Trust Bridge’s investment focuses will be telecoms, media and technology, including related areas such as consumer-driven internet business or the new media sector, said one of the sources.

Zhang has become the latest senior Goldman banker to join the private equity industry, while China remains as a focus for dealmakers despite the global credit crisis.

In January, Mount Kellett Capital Management, a private equity firm run by former Goldman partner Mark McGoldrick – known as ‘Goldfinger’ – raised at least $1.5 billion and was on the hunt for investments, Reuters reported.

In November, FountainVest, led by Frank Tang, a former senior executive for Singapore’s Temasek Holdings [TEM.UL] who was also a former senior Goldman banker, said it had raised nearly $1 billion for its first private equity fund.

By George Chen

(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)