Sean Tong Jumps from GA to Prov Equity

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Providence Equity Partners will hire General Atlantic Managing Director Sean Tong as a managing director in Hong Kong as it moves to bolster dealmaking opportunities in China, the U.S. buyout firm said on Tuesday.

Tong, 34, an active dealmaker in Asia, worked for Wall Street bank Morgan Stanley (MS.N) in New York before joining General Atlantic in Hong Kong in 2000 and has served on the board of directors of Wuxi Pharmatech (WX.N) and Oak Pacific Interactive.

“We are pleased to welcome Sean to our team in Asia, and look forward to continuing to expand our presence in the region in the years ahead,” said Providence Chief Executive Jonathan Nelson in a statement.

Julie Richardson, a managing director of Providence who leads the firm’s New York office, said the firm expected Tong to help bolster its activity in the region, particularly in China.

Richardson is serving as interim head of Providence’s Asia operations following the departure of Andrew Rickards. Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters in April that Rickards had decided to leave his position as Asia head for Providence.

The Providence, Rhode Island-based firm focuses on the media, entertainment, communications and information sectors, and is currently investing a $12 billion global fund.

Compared with rivals such as The Carlyle Group [CYL.UL] and Warburg Pincus [WP.UL], Providence arrived late to Asia. In recent years private equity fund-raising in the region has surged and competition for assets has been fierce.

Providence’s Asian investment portfolio includes a 15 percent stake in Idea Cellular Ltd (IDEA.BO), an Indian wireless operator with more than 10 million subscribers, and a $640 million commitment to Aditya Birla Telecom Ltd, a wireless communications company in India, according to the statement.

Providence has not, however, completed any deals in China. (Reporting by George Chen; Editing by Edmund Klamann)