Mekong Capital Overcomes Exhaustion!

Reporters get plenty of esoteric press releases—each day my inbox produces a few chuckle-worthy requests for me to cover hard-hitting news stories like “Eleven People Already In Line For Opening of Ikea in Brooklyn,” or “Candy Dynamics’ Toxic Waste Candy To Be Exclusive Sour Candy Brand At Connected Celebrity Gift Lounge Celebrating 2008 Mtv Movie Awards.”

You can’t make up stuff like this.

But today I received an unusual press release from Mekong Capital, a Vietnam-focused private equity firm based in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. “40 Mekong Capital members overcome rain, lack of oxygen, exhaustion to climb Mt. Kinabalu-the highest mountain in Southeast Asia,” the release declares.

According to the firm, Mekong is the first company to climb the mountain as a teambuilding exercise, thanks to their “strong will to create breakthroughs.” Amusing snippets from the press release below.

But you may be asking, Erin, why have you decided to actually cover this non-news story? Because the PR stunt is conveniently timed to precede Mekong’s next fundraising effort. The Mekong Enterprise Fund III will launch in the fourth quarter of 2008, the firm’s Web site declares. If it follows the suit of Mekong’s previous funds, it would double in size. Currently the firm manages a $50 million growth equity fund and a $100 million minority investment fund. The firm’s funds have around 50 LPs.

I can’t say I’ve ever seen such a wild card marketing technique, but maybe it’ll work. Could the knowledge that every member of the portfolio management team climbed a mountain, together, (they overcame exhaustion!) garner a little respect from LPs, and tip the scales in their favor? Probably not, unless Mekong can prove that mountain climbing leads to higher returns. But hey, it’s a fabulous conversation opener!

Some choice excerpts:

In what could easily be the lyrics to an Air Supply song, one MD declares, “As we ascended the mountain together in the darkness of night, climbing over the unpredictable rocks and obstacles, we were fully committed to each other and nothing would stop us.”

In a more biblical-sounding testimony, another team member said, “Now I know as long as I am with the right persons, I will never get lost, even on a strange route in the darkness.”

Mekong’s Web site: