Hugger had also been involved in setting up and the day-to-day management of these entities, according to a statement released jointly this morning in Hong Kong by Leopard Capital and Asia Frontier Capital.
Douglas Clayton, founder of Leopard Capital and its chief executive, said the decision to spin off the company’s smaller public equities division to its manager was made as the company’s private equity platform had begun to “expand rapidly”.
“This will enable the Leopard team to focus exclusively on our core business, which is providing financial and operational support to unlisted companies in frontier markets,” he added.
“We are pleased to have created and incubated the successful Asia Frontier Fund, and are confident it will continue to perform well under Thomas’s ownership and management.”
The purchase price of the deal was not disclosed. The transaction has already received the necessary regulatory approvals in both the Cayman Islands and Hong Kong, according to the statement.
As a result of the management buyout, Leopard Capital Management has been renamed Asia Frontier Capital, and will continue to manage the Leopard Asia Frontier Fund under the new name “AFC Asia Frontier Fund”.
Another entity emerging from the MBO is Asia Frontier Investments – previously Leopard Capital (Hong Kong) – which is licensed and regulated by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission.
Strategy shift by partners
The Hugger buyout marks a strategic shift for the former partners of Leopard Capital. Going forward, the Leopard Capital team will focus on managing private equity investments in the frontier economies, while Asia Frontier Capital will invest exclusively in public equities (listed companies) in Asian frontier markets.
The transaction “does not change Leopard Capital’s management of its two existing private equity funds, Leopard Cambodia Fund and Leopard Haiti Fund, or any additional private equity funds that Leopard Capital is planning to launch,” the statement announcing the deal noted.
Both companies will “continue to collaborate informally through the sharing of information and research capabilities, certain back office functions as well as marketing referrals,” the statement added.
“As part of the transaction, Asia Frontier Capital has acquired Leopard’s former public equities team, and is [in the process of] recruiting a new marketing director and research analyst.”
Asia Frontier Capital is a Cayman Islands-based fund manager, and is described as running one of the world’s few investment funds solely focused on Asia’s growing frontier economies. According to the company, Hugger’s AFC Asia Frontier Fund has returned 10.72% to investors, net of fees, since its launch at the end of March 2012.
Year-to-date its return has been 10.56%, and 19.02% on a one-year basis.
Hugger, whose new title is chief executive and manager of the AFC Asia Frontier Fund, said he intends to continue with his combination of a top-down and bottom-up investment strategy, “to take advantage of opportunities in the fast-growing Asian frontier markets of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Iraq, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam”, according to the statement.