John Tan: Fast Rising Private Equity Baron In Asia

John Tan: Fast Rising Private Equity Baron In Asia

John Tan , Chairman & CEO

John Tan

Chairman & CEO

John Tan has extensive legal experience across international corporate Mergers & Acquisitions, Joint Ventures, and Strategic Alliances, Foreign Investment, Private Equity, and Venture Capital deals, Private Fund establishment and structuring for Private Equity Fund and Venture Capital Funds, Project Financing, structuring of investment for high net-worth family offices, and property transactions for both corporate and individual clients. Along with being the Chairman and CEO of AEI Capital Group, he serves as the Partner at a regional law firm in South East Asia advising on corporate affairs, M&A, capital market, commercial contract, and property matters in Kuala Lumpur.

At Ashita Group, he chairs the Strategic Planning Committee on the Board of this corporate group providing board-level guidance and leadership as its Group President. He is also the Co-President of the Investment Banking Services Group at European Credit Investment Bank where he leads its offshore investment banking services group to serve small-mid cap listed companies across Asia Pacific. Previously, he has been associated with Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP, the largest law firm in ASEAN, as a common law-qualified cross-border corporate lawyer, and has served as the regional counsel for a Fortune 100 company in charge of the ASEAN and South Asia regions. He is also the chairman of Caelus Asset Management Ltd (a licensed regional fund management company in Hong Kong) and Mayfair Capital Markets Ltd (a licensed asset management firm in London), which are all the member firms within AEI Capital Group.

Under his leadership, the Asia-Pacific-focused private equity investment group, AEI Capital Group has received numerous accolades includingthe Best Private Equity Firm (East Asia) in Fund Awards 2021 and 2022 granted by Wealth & Finance International. He is also the chairman and CEO of AEI CapForce II Investment Corp, a NASDAQ-listed SPAC aiming to merge with high-growth businesses in technology, new economy, or renewable energy segment across Asia Pacific. Below is an excerpt of CEO Insights Asia exclusive interview with him.

Tell us about the unique experiences you acquired at the University of Malaya.

I am a Bachelor of Law degree holder from the University of Malaya. And during my university days, apart from being an academic achiever, I founded and led an undergraduate entrepreneurship organization called UM-Styled Apprentice under the supervision of the Malaysian Graduate Entrepreneurship Development Centre for three years, with the official endorsement of the then Ministry of Higher Education and the Vice Chancellor Office of the University of Malaya.

During the same, I also founded a concept event management business and led different batches of student entrepreneurs who joined an undergraduate entrepreneurship organization at the University of Malaya to launch several campus-wide massive concept events. This illustrates the diversity and flexibility of the university and how the environment helped the students to propel their personal growth while providing them with plenty of leadership opportunities.

How would you describe AEI Capital Group?

We are an exponentially expanding growth equity investment firm with our boutique investment banking services armed with extremely talented professionals with 20 years of collective experience. As Jedi in the world of capital, our passion lies in bringing the force of growth capital to private and public equity across Asia Pacific. We work closely with tech scalable businesses to provide them with opportunities for Capitalization, Digitalization, and Strategisation to transform their businesses and lead them toward growth. With AUM over $700 million we are progressing toward hitting our first billiondollar AUM milestone.

Tell us about your leadership and governance approach.

As a leader, I focus on four elements. The first would be having a strategy - whatever I do I start with strategy first and with strategy one can attract the right capital. So, capital is the second element that I focus on. The third element is people. With the right strategy to attract the right capital, the right people will come along which includes the right clients, investors, staff, and partners (both internal & external). These elements come together to bring the right resources. And then I use the right communication to connect and lead these four elements.

What are the changes in market behavior that you anticipate and what are the opportunities that you foresee?

In my opinion, two trends are constantly wrestling with each other – the market and ever-evolving technology. The present environment is challenging (which is caused by the effects of the geopolitical issues, the Russia-Ukraine war, and COVID-19) but plenty of opportunities are abound for us as a Buyside Player or Private Equity Investor, as the general asset price across all types of asset classes in both private and public markets are nearly at the bottom.

The supply chain has been disrupted and the reversal of globalization is leading to financial and banking crises across different regions of the world. This is the best time for us to grow and scale up and expand our Asset Under Management (AUM). Although we still position ourselves as a private equity firm, we are already a full-house alternative asset management firm in fact, practically also covering nearly all other alternative asset classes such as private credit, hedge fund, real estate and fund-of-funds. We can start to see each of our managed asset classes and business lines starting to cross-pollinate and synergise with each other - the key benefit and strength brought by the breadth and depth of our alternative asset management coverage.

As jedi in the world of capital, our passion lies in bringing the force of growth capital to private and public equity across asia pacific

As we specialize in growth equity, we pour our dry powder into high-growth industries with structural opportunities. We see a lot of technology trends coming to a tipping point and a lot of the older incumbent technological infrastructures are going to be replaced with AI and metaverse leading to a new era of big data. Also, the majority of businesses are now deeply intertwined with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) concerns; the installation of Electric Vehicle (EV) being the biggest example. EV is now 30 percent of the total sales of automobiles in China and this effect is going to be felt across the world very soon.

Based on the above-mentioned changing market behaviours, what are your plans for the future of AEI Capital Group?

The technological megatrends represent trilliondollar opportunities. There is plenty of smart money around from ultra-high net worth sources perspective and an institutional world perspective. And if we can keep performing what we are doing now in terms of the alpha returns that we create for the assets that we manage, we believe we have a very high chance to achieve high double-digit growth in terms of AUM and maintain the high double-digit alpha that we can generate for our investor base. There is a Force in Capital, and we are passionate about bringing this Force to our investee portfolio from private equity to public equity stage and beyond on end-to-end basis. We are a growth equity firm with complementary capabilities in Private Credit, Hedge Funds, and Fund of Funds to mobilize all resources to propel the next growth phase of our investees even when they go public.

John Tan, Chairman & CEO, AEI Capital Group

Having MBA from the London School of Economics and Political Science, an Executive Program completed at the University of Oxford on Blockchain Strategy, and an Executive Programme in Alternative Investments at Harvard University, John, being well equipped by his top notch legal training at University of Malaya law school along with his rich corporate and capital markets legal practice experience, with his experience of serving on the Board of Directors of various high-growth companies and acting as the Board Advisor to various publicly listed companies across Asia Pacific, is developing opportunities for companies to capitalize & re-strategize their businesses and drive them toward long-term growth.

• Hobbies: Reading

Favorite Books: The Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J. P. MorganInvented the American Super Economy

• Favorite Travel Destination: China

• Favorite Cuisine: Chinese

• Awards & Recognition:

Received the honor of Global Innovator Award 2018 in Finance and Investment Category by Global SME Alliance, United Nations for his significant contribution to ASEAN-plus-China One-Belt-One-Road private equity investment thesis. Recognition from Wealth & Finance International as the winner of the Fund Awards 2021 and 2022 for the Best Private Equity Investment Group (East Asia).

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