Good Things Come in Midsize Packages

Asia's fastest-growing companies are midsize operations that have flourished on a steady diet of venture capital and liberalized policies

Asia has long been home to the world's most dynamic pack of economies, yet a defining feature of the region's business landscape has been corporate size. China's state-owned enterprises, the keiretsu business combines in Japan, or the mighty chaebol family-run industrial empires of South Korea tended to squeeze out the small fry in the struggle for market access and capital. Well, that all seems so late-'90s now.

Of course, the rise of China and India is attracting serious money, too. In India, there are now 53 foreign venture capital funds operating, vs. 39 at this time last year, and big investment funds such as Blackstone and Carlyle are chasing deals there. "They are all looking at the small stories which have the potential to become large-cap in the next three to five years," says Manish Shah, head of equity and derivatives at brokerage Motilal Oswal Securities. In China, private equity shop General Atlantic Partners and U.S. tech titans such as Intel () Though the companies on this year's list hail from different countries and cultures, what unites them is a killer competitive instinct. Will all of them be thriving at decade's end? Probably not, but Asia is starting to produce a new generation of midsize companies that aspire to the big time. And that kind of dynamism from the bottom of the corporate world is a very good omen that Asia's run of economic prosperity is far from over.

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