Nine years. Four funds. 30+ investments. 13 exits.

No wonder Brahmal Vasudevan, the founder and CEO of Malaysia-based private equity firm Creador, doesn’t shy away from discussing his firm’s track record (or the overall mediocre performance mediocre performance DealstreetAsia Southeast Asia is filled with mediocre performance: Brahmal Vasudevan, Creador Read more of his regional peers).

Vasudevan seems unfazed even about newer and larger PEs in the region, like Singapore-based Ikhlas Capital Ikhlas Capital theedgemarkets Ikhlas sitting on dry powder of more than US$175 mil Read more . Founded in 2018 by ex-banker Nazir Razak—younger brother of Malaysia’s former prime minister, Najib Razak—Ikhlas is now looking to raise US$500 million for its debut fund.

“I don’t think competition is heating up at all, I think returns—as I’ve mentioned many times—in Southeast Asia are extremely poor, for most [PE] firms. Generally, there’s a great degree of disappointment with [investment] returns in Southeast Asia. Very few firms have crossed the bar and that bar being US PE returns or even S&P 500 S&P 500 The S&P 500 is a stock market index that measures the stock performance of 500 large companies listed on US stock exchanges. It is one of the most commonly followed equity indices ,” Vasudevan tells The Ken.

Unlike its competition, Creador straddles two regions—Southeast Asia and India. It invests in both, unlike other homegrown PEs in Southeast Asia. That’s not its only USP, either.

Also unusual is its home base—Malaysia, rather than financial hub Singapore. “In private equity, the deals are in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines. There’s no reason to be based in Singapore. The bankers are local anyway. And selfishly, I wanted to be here [because it’s home]. I also wanted to show the world that we can actually build a leading private equity business right here from Malaysia,” says Vasudevan.

Additionally, Creador has an uncommon operational team. Called Creador+, it assists Creador’s portfolio companies.

But most interestingly, perhaps, Creador actively invests in listed companies. And that strategy has worked out particularly well for the firm.

To date, it has over US$1.5 billion under its management, and half of its exits have come from the Indian market, with the rest from Malaysia and Indonesia.

The firm’s Indian roots are intertwined with Vasudevan’s own start in the PE world. Before founding Creador in 2011, he was a managing director at India’s ChrysCapital for 11 years—an experience that would prove valuable while helming his own venture.

AUTHOR

Ka Kay Lum

Based in Kuala Lumpur, Ka Kay covers investment activities, aka following the money, across Southeast Asia and in-depth stories on the often-overlooked Malaysian startup ecosystem. She was previously a regional writer for Nikkei-owned DealStreetAsia.

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