Former Hillhouse Capital Partner David Ma Said to Plan Own Fund

  • Ma’s Hong Kong-based Composite Capital won regulatory approval
  • He left Hillhouse after seven years with Yale-backed manager

David Ma, a former partner of Yale University endowment-backed Hillhouse Capital Management, plans to start his own Hong Kong-based fund that will invest in public and private equity, said a person with knowledge of the matter.

Ma’s Composite Capital Management (HK) won regulatory approval in mid-June, according to information posted on the website of Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission. The fund will start investment in the next few months, said the person who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

The fund will be able to make bullish and bearish bets on companies, like a hedge fund. It will aim to be a long-term investor using deep fundamental research and focusing on companies with Asian investment themes, said the person. Fion Ha, a former executive director of Morgan Stanley’s Asia-Pacific special situations group who has joined as its chief operating officer, declined to comment.

Composite is among the most high-profile Asia-based hedge-fund startups expected this year, when volatile markets have damped investor sentiment and slowed fundraising activities. Eighteen new funds were started in Asia in the first half, less than a quarter of the 79 for the full year of 2015, according to data provider Eurekahedge Pte. No new funds started with more than $100 million this year.

Zhang Lei, a former employee of Yale University’s investment unit, founded Hillhouse in 2005 with $30 million from the university endowment. The company, which has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore, is a fundamental equity manager that invests in publicly-traded and privately-held companies both in and outside of China. Hillhouse, whose assets under management hit $20 billion last year, has been a long-time backer of Chinese e-commerce companies such, as Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Ma left Hillhouse in November 2014, after seven years with the money manager, according to information posted on the SFC website and his LinkedIn profile.

Before Hillhouse, he had advised clients in the consumer goods, retail and technology industries for the Boston Consulting Group and helped invest in consumer and technology companies at Bain Capital’s Brookside Capital arm, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Howe Szuan Leng, a former Och-Ziff Capital Management Group analyst, is Composite’s third responsible officer, in addition to Ma and Ha, according to the SFC data.

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