Fund finance vet takes group reins for Asia at MUFG

MUFG Investor Services has snagged a well-known fund financier to head up its APAC fund finance outfit.

The asset servicing arm of mega-bank Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group has tapped Fi Dinh from Citi Private Bank to head up its Asia-Pacific fund finance group, Private Funds CFO has learned.

The move signals plans for further growth in the APAC region – and possibly for growth specifically in ESG-linked lines there. Dinh, alongside a handful of others in the industry, has been among the leading figures trying to create and grow the market for ESG-linked subscription lines.

Asia has been buzzing with fund finance activity for some time now, but industry professionals have largely been unclear about who is active and in what products – and how much activity there really has been – sources have told Private Funds CFO. Dinh has been active there for years, based out of Singapore for ING, where she built and led that institution’s fund finance and insurance finance APAC business before moving on to Citi Private Bank, where she led a portoflio of PE and fund finance relationships and directed the bank’s ESG-linked financing business globally.

Fi Dinh

“We have been seeing growing fund finance activity in Asia since the market has opened up post-covid, especially in Singapore, attracting talent from Hong Kong,” Rory Smith, founder of fund finance-focused Brickfield Recruitment, told Private Funds CFO. “We are seeing key players in the region take advantage of their competitors, who are moving slowly with their regional growth strategies.”

In an upcoming episode of PEI Group’s ongoing podcast miniseries “Private Markets and the End of Cheap Money,” Lazard managing director Holcombe Green tells Private Funds CFO that private equity investment in Asia’s largest market, China, has been diverted to Southeast Asia as investors shy away ongoing geopolitical turbulence there.

“With China in particular having been such a huge share of global emerging market capital flows, that capital is flowing elsewhere, which is benefiting sellers of investments in the non-Chinese, Asia markets in particular, and to a certain extent in developed markets, because capital is flowing back from China and elsewhere into home geographies,” Green said.

Smith added that he expects Hong Kong to “be a global player once again” once China’s covid restrictions are relaxed.

John Sergides, MUFG Investor Services CEO, said: “As the industry experiences a liquidity squeeze, banks across the globe are scaling down the fund financing space due to capital constraints.” That’s presenting an opportunity for the bank in APAC, he added, saying that the bank would be active in fund finance across “the broader alternatives market.”

Dinh serves as co-chair of the Women in Fund Finance, APAC group, which is part of the Fund Finance Association. She spent nearly a decade at Barclays before ING, both in London and Dubai, where she helped build the UK bank’s private equity sponsors and alternative asset managers business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. She’s also worked in government and is on a fund management industry working group for the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Financial Center Advisory Panel, green finance.

Correction: This article previously stated that Dinh came to MUFG from ING. This has been corrected – Dinh worked at ING for three years before moving to Citi Private Bank.