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UPDATE 2-Ong brothers, Asia's 2 top dealmakers, combine again
September 2, 2011 / 5:06 AM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 2-Ong brothers, Asia's 2 top dealmakers, combine again

(Recasts, adds detail)

* Temasek’s Charles Ong to join Richard at RRJ on secondment

* Richard Ong was co-founder of China-focused Hopu

* Move is latest management reshuffle at Singapore state investor

By Saeed Azhar and Michael Flaherty

SINGAPORE/HONG KONG, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Malaysia’s Ong brothers, two of Asia’s most well-known and experienced dealmakers, have joined forces yet again.

Charles Ong, a senior managing director at Singapore’s Temasek Holdings , will join his brother to advise Richard’s $2.3 billion private equity firm RRJ Capital, the Singapore state investor said on its website.

The professional story of the Ongs is one that closely tracks Asia’s economic growth, and the rapid development in size and clout of its investment management and banking industries.

It is also one of wealth, with each brother overseeing billions of dollars. The last two funds Richard led or co-led raised more than $5 billion combined. At a 2 percent management fee -- an industry standard -- that’s $100 million in annual fees alone, for two firms with only a few dozen employees.

Richard and Charles, who were educated in the United States but made their mark on Asia’s banking and investment fund scene, will now both work at RRJ, with Charles juggling time between the new firm and Temasek.

“These guys are outstanding dealmakers and I think the deals they’ve worked on shows that,” said Chak Wong, professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“It’s rare for both to reach such high positions in dealmaking, and this is about as rare as two brothers competing at the Olympics together or two brothers winning an academic award in university together.”


The arrangement is not the first time the brothers have worked together. In fact, a look at the transactions Richard and Charles have been involved with in the last few years shows the two are linked by a lot more than just blood.

Charles first joined Temasek in 2002. He started his career as an investment banker with Lazard Freres & Co. in New York. He also worked for Deutsche Bank AG in Singapore before joining Temasek.

Richard’s RRJ Capital, based in Hong Kong and Singapore, is backed by Temasek, which is one of its limited partners. The private equity firm has to date invested in oilfield services provider Frac Tech Services Inc and North American natural gas fuels provider Clean Energy Fuels Corp .

Richard was a co-founder of Hopu, a giant China-focused investment firm that wound down its operations this year.

Richard was previously one of Goldman Sachs’ top Asia investment bankers before he moved to Hopu, whose top man was Goldman colleague and China rainmaker Feng Fanglei.

Temasek invested $1 billion into Hopu, media reports say.

When Richard left Hopu in June, Charles also initiated a move shortly after. In July, he stepped down as co-CEO of Seatown, a S$4 billion ($3.3 billion) multi-strategy investment firm that had been set up by Temasek.

Financial industry insiders in Asia have speculated about impending leadership changes at Temasek, including rumours about Chief Executive Ho Ching’s next move.

“They have found a home for him,” said one banker who has dealt with Charles. “It does show that he is clearly not on the succession list,” said the banker, who asked not to be named. “They are giving headroom to the younger lot to grow.”

Temasek has seen a number of changes in the past few months. Francis Rozario, who headed the state investor’s Fullerton Financial arm has left and been replaced by Gan Chee Yan, who is also considered close to Ho. Simon Israel retired from Temasek and became chairman of Singapore Telecommunications .

This happened as Temasek, which managed S$193 billion as at end-March 2011, hired Greg Curl, who was once seen as a CEO candidate for Bank of America , brought in ex-Singapore Exchange CEO Hsieh Fu Hua as executive director and president, and hired former top lawyer Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara as head of portfolio management on Sept 1.

Temasek officials said Charles would remain at Temasek.

“We have been seconding staff over the years to various funds and institutions, in Singapore and elsewhere,” said Temasek spokesman Stephen Foreshaw. Charles will remain a senior managing director for special projects with Temasek.

$1 = 1.204 Singapore dollars Additional reporting by Kevin Lim in SINGAPORE and Kelvin Soh in HONG KONG; Editing by Lincoln Feast

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