Ripe for Growth

By Ben Yue in Hong Kong | June 21, 2013
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Cambodia is booming, and its flourishing economy is being fueled by investment from Chinese state-owned and private companies.

When planeloads of Chinese tourists land in Siem Reap to visit the world famous Angkor Wat temple complex, they could be forgiven for thinking they’re still in China despite having had their passports stamped. The motorized rickshaws known as tuk-tuks they take might have been donated by the government of Hubei province, the de rigueur Smile of Angkor Wat dance performance might have been operated by the Yunnan Media Industrial Investment Holding Group and, of course, there are the Chinese hawkers in the night markets.

Besides, the Chinese yuan is the second most commonly used foreign currency in the country after the US dollar, circulating widely among local guides and convenience stores.

About 333,900 Chinese tourists visited Cambodia in 2012, up 35 percent year-on-year and predicted to reach 1 million in 2020, according to Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism.

To Succeed in Myanmar, Find Solid Local Partners

By Kenneth Stevens | June 04, 2013

Over the past 18 months, I have witnessed a growing flood of foreign investors, businesspeople and trade missions pouring into Myanmar to seek their fortunes in the last great frontier economy of Asia. At this week’s World Economic Forum in the capital of Naypitaw, foreign visitors will meet with Myanmar’s best and brightest in the hope of finding local partners to help them realize these ambitions.

Most of these visitors are aware of the basic challenges of investing in Myanmar: significant corruption; untested legal systems; inadequate infrastructure; underdeveloped human resources and other issues. At Leonard Capital, we note that early investors in other emerging countries such as Cambodia and Laos faced similar limitations, but managed to mitigate these risks and make successful investments. From our experience in all these countries, the top challenge for investors in Myanmar will be finding reliable business partners who will properly align their interests with those of the foreign partner.

Leopard Capital Wins “Frontier Markets Investment Manager of the Year” Award in Acquisition International’s 2013 M&A Awards

Leopard Capital - Press Release | May 30, 2013

Leopard Capital LP has been named “Frontier Markets Investment Manager of the Year” in Acquisition International’s 2013 M&A Awards.
The firm also won three additional awards in this year’s competition: “Private Equity House of the Year – Cambodia” for the second consecutive year, “Fund of the Year – Cambodia”, and “Boutique Private Equity House of the Year – Haiti”.

The annual Acquisition International M&A Awards recognize the leading professionals in the tax, start-up advisory, hedge fund, private equity, venture capital, and real estate industries. A record number of votes were received in 2013 and winners were determined based on the total number of votes and in-house research. Acquisition International is the definitive magazine for venture capital, corporate finance advisers, and top tier management and it provides complete international coverage of M&A transactions, combined with industry expertise and sector analysis.

dloHaiti Taps VC Funding as it Brings Haiti Clean Water and Jobs

The Wall Street Journal | May 14, 2013
By Lora Kolodny

A “for-profit, for-good” startup, dloHaiti, raised $3.4 million in Series A funding to bring clean, affordable water and new jobs to communities across Haiti, according to the company’s chief executive and founder, Jim Chu.

Investors in dloHaiti’s Series A round included firms that focus on social ventures: LeopardCapital, IFC InfraVentures (an investment arm of the World Bank Group) and Netherlands Development Finance (FMO), along with Miyamoto International.

Pronounced like the French word for water (“de l’eau”), dloHaiti sets up solar-powered kiosks that purify water on-site. It also hires teams to distribute the water to nearby communities. The kiosks are made from off-the-shelf components, Chu said, and are optimized to treat Haiti’s abundant supply of groundwater.
While Haiti is still rebuilding critical infrastructure after a catastrophic earthquake in 2010, it experienced drastic water poverty, especially in rural areas, many years prior, the CEO said. In Haiti, the lowest price for treated water is 12 cents per gallon, about eighty times higher than the lowest price in the U.S., according to research by dloHaiti.

Frontier Hurdles

Global Trading | May 15, 2013

Leopard Capital Fund Manager, Thomas Hugger of Leopard Asia Frontier Fund and Managing Partner of Leopard Capital LP, goes through some of the major difficulties faced in various frontier markets in Asia.

In the frontier markets, even though you have electronic data services such as the internet, social media, and Bloomberg, it is very difficult to get financial papers or balance sheet papers, and other fundamental papers for some of the companies in these locations. Even if you go to Bloomberg and search on Bangladesh, you don’t have the balance sheet there. If you go into Bloomberg and look at Mongolian stocks, you will often find the price, but the description says, “The company currently has no available information on their current line of business as of 08/2008”. These are often blue-chip companies, and sometimes we have visited them or we have networks there, but there is limited information available.

But this is frequently because business is based on a more personal note, and I would say physical representation gives a big advantage. Our strategy on the private equity side complements this, so everywhere we have firms, we have offices. So we have an office in Cambodia, we have an office in Laos, we have an office in Haiti. When we are successful in fundraising for Myanmar and Bangladesh, we will have offices there too.

For private individuals it is still very difficult to invest in these markets. Go to a private bank in Hong Kong or Singapore, tell them you want to buy stock in Laos or even Vietnam and they will often tell you “Oh we are sorry, we cannot execute”.

Leopard Cambodia Fund exits mineral water producer Kulara

AltAssets | May 07, 2013

Emerging markets firm Leopard Capital has successfully exited its entire investment in Cambodian mineral water company Kulara Water to the company’s founding shareholder.

The transaction harvested an undisclosed profit for Leopard Cambodia Fund, the firm said. It provided Kulara with venture financing and operational support, enabling Kulara to complete its factory construction and refine its business plan.

Richard Intrator, CIO of Leopard Cambodia Fund, said, “Leopard Capital is proud to have helped create another world-class consumer product and local brand in Cambodia. Kulara’s factory is now fully operational, and eau Kulen is poised to become a significant player in the local water market. Having supported Kulara from a concept to a successful launch, we have now returned ownership to its founder and will redeploy the sales proceeds into other promising businesses.”

Leopard Cambodia Fund was launched by Leopard Capital in April 2008 as the first private equity fund for Cambodia. It raised $34m and has since made 14 investments in Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos, including CamGSM, ACLEDA Bank, IPR, Kingdom Breweries, Tropical Beverage Co, Kulara Water, Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority, Greenside Holdings, EDL Genco and Engage.

Leopard Capital was founded in 2007 by Douglas Clayton and manages two other funds: Leopard Haiti Fund, and Leopard Asia Frontier Fund.

Leopard Capital’s CEO Douglas Clayton discusses Myanmar with Rishaad Salamat on Bloomberg Television’s “On the Move Asia”

Bloomberg | April 23, 2013

Leopard Capital CEO Douglas Clayton discusses the EU lifting sanctions on Myanmar. He speaks with Rishaad Salamat on Bloomberg Television's "On The Move Asia." (Source: Bloomberg)

Watch the interview here: Myanmar Deserves to Be Supported by World: Clayton

Leopard Cambodia Fund LP Invests in Engage Resources (Thailand) Co. Ltd.

Leopard Capital - Press Release | March 18, 2012

Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Leopard Capital LP announced today that Leopard Cambodia Fund LP has invested in Engage Resources (Thailand) Co. Ltd. (“Engage”), a producer and developer of kenaf-based products. Kenaf is a fibrous plant used in the animal feed, construction, and paper & pulp industries. Leopard Cambodia Fund’s investment provides growth capital required for Engage to continue its product development and to expand its operations from Thailand into Cambodia.  This growth capital injection will contribute to Engage’s product development, add value to its core business, and assist its regional expansion by drawing on Leopard’s local experience and networks.

Richard Intrator, Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer of Leopard Cambodia Fund LP, commented: “We are pleased to invest in a fast-growing, pan-ASEAN agriculture business and help introduce a new high-yielding crop into Cambodia.  Engage’s management has taken a leading role in developing more efficient methods of producing kenaf in Southeast Asia.”
Robert Brodie, the CEO of Engage, added: “We welcome Leopard Capital as a funding partner to our Group. Leopard’s experience in developing projects and key networks across the region will prove valuable as we expand our operations into Cambodia.”

Asia alts managers voice regulatory concerns

Asian Investor | 21 February 2013
By Georgina Lee
Thomas Hugger
COO & CFO of Leopard Capital

A private equity COO fears rule tightening is too broad-brush and will inflate costs, while a fund-of-hedge-fund COO says clarity is needed over new reporting requirements.

Private equity and fund-of-hedge-fund managers in Asia point to growing fundraising difficulties outside the region amid a regulatory clampdown.

The alternative investment fund managers directive (AIFMD) comes into force in Europe as early as this June – reform that will reshape the way alt funds are marketed in the EU. No matter where they are domiciled, all non-Ucits funds are covered under the directive.

Thomas Hugger, COO for $57 million PE manager Leopard Capital, says having the same, broad-brushed regulatory principles governing private equity funds and hedge funds fails to take into account the customised nature of how PE sponsors put their money to work.

He notes that using a depository is a challenge for PE managers. Unlike hedge funds, PE sponsors do not always invest in a company’s equity. Instead, they may invest by providing mezzanine capital, convertibles, loans or other structured products and derivatives.

How to Invest in Frontier Markets

Capitalist Exploits | 24 January 2013

Investing in frontier markets is a challenge due to lack of liquidity and significant set-up times. One way to circumvent these problems is to Invest in other people's expertise through a managed fund.

We work hard to associate ourselves with smart individuals where we can reciprocate value. This not only gives us opportunities to put capital to work, but provides us the ability to grow a powerful network filled with influential people.

One such person I have become friendly with is Thomas Hugger, COO & CFO of Leopard Capital, a frontier markets private equity fund we have discussed previously in these pages.
Thomas has had a global career, spending 27 years in private banking, where he specialized in managing portfolios of listed and unlisted equity investments. Further, he is a CFIA. His most recent venture is the formation of the Leopard Asia Frontier Fund (LAFF), a liquid investment vehicle focusing on Asia’s frontier markets.

I recently caught up with Thomas in Phnom Penh where we had a discussion about his fund, as well as some opportunities he sees right now in the countries LAFF is active in. Enjoy!

Pearl of Wisdom

7th Heaven Properties | 31 December 2012
The Caribbean Property Investor
By Douglas Clayton, CEO of Leopard Capital

As billions of dollars of foreign assistance pour into the “Pearl of the Antilles” driving economic growth, the CEO and Founder of pioneering private equity firm Leopard Capital explains why he believes Haiti is poised for growth and mutually beneficial investment opportunities abound

In crisis lies opportunity, states an old Chinese proverb. When it comes to Haiti, most outsiders comprehend the crisis part, having seen images and heard accounts of the grinding poverty, the devastating earthquake, the homeless tent dwellers and cholera outbreaks. An entrenched industry of non-government organizations (NGOs) dutifully highlights Haiti’s heartbreaks, eager to maintain the donation flow through their bureaucracies. While Haiti offers more plotlines than tragedy, pathos dominates its international narrative.