* Permira looks to expand presence in mainland China
* Chen is latest in series of investment bankers joining global buyout firms
* European private equity interest in China seen increasing (Updates with details of additional new hire, portfolio)
By Samuel Shen and Stephen Aldred
SHANGHAI/HONG KONG, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Private equity firm Permira has hired former Goldman Sachs banker Alan Chen as head of its mainland China business, it said on Thursday, as it builds a team to source deals in China’s booming private equity market.
The global buyouts firm has also hired Christian Paul from Alix Capital in Shanghai as portfolio director to manage its investments.
The new hires follow the appointments of Henry Chen and Alex Emery as co-heads of Asia earlier this year, to build the firm’s business with a focus on Greater China, Japan and Korea.
Chen, formerly an executive director at Goldman’s special situations group, will be initially based in Hong Kong, where Permira opened an office in 2008, the firm said, confirming what sources had told Reuters earlier.
The firm is expected to open a mainland office after hiring Chen.
Chen is the latest in a series of investment bankers joining global buyout firms in senior roles, as funds look to strengthen their deal teams in China.
Global firms, including Blackstone and TPG as well as investment banks such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman, have all set up private equity operations in China, heating up competition for deals, and the players who source them.
Last month, UK-based private equity firm 3i Group Plc hired Paul Su from Credit Suisse as a senior partner for 3i China, while Steve Sun also left Goldman earlier this year to work for TPG Capital .
As competition for talent has grown, TPG recently hired China deal maker Jingsheng Huang away from rival Bain Capital.
Permira’s thrust into China is also the latest sign of increasing European private equity firms’ interest in that market, where they have lagged their big North American rivals in setting up funds and teams.
European private equity firm Terra Firma on Wednesday announced it was opening a Beijing office to look for investments and M&A opportunities, while Swiss bank UBS said last week it was setting up an asset management unit in China. Earlier this year, European firm A Capital and financier Jacob Rothschild set up private equity funds to tap China.
“Alan Chen’s appointment as Head of China marks another significant step in Permira’s development in Asia,” Alex Emery and Henry Chen, Co-Heads of Permira’s Asia business said in a statement.
“With significant capital already successfully deployed across the region we see strong appetite in China to create partnerships with entrepreneurs and families to help them accelerate the growth of their businesses.”
Capital committed to China’s private equity market totalled $652 billion at the end of June, according to UBS.
Permira said that Paul, who was formerly director at Alix Capital for four years, would work with the firm’s portfolio companies.
“Christian Paul’s operational experience will be a key advantage as we work with our portfolio companies to achieve their potential,” said Chen and Emery in a release.
Permira has deployed more than $2 billion in capital in three companies, Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment , Japan agrochemicals firm Arysta Lifescience and Hong Kong based satellite business Asia Broadcast Satellite, the firm said.
Permira was founded in 1985 and advises funds with a total committed capital of approximately 20 billion euros.
Goldman Sachs declined to comment. (Editing by Kazunori Takada)