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Southeast Asia

Four form a catalyst for private equity

The lines between business and politics are often blurred in southeast Asia. Just ask the prominent founders of Ikhlas Capital, a private equity firm boasting a network of contacts with the promise of huge opportunities – and occasional trouble.

Clockwise from top left: Cesar Purisima, Nazir Razak, Kenny Kim and Gita Wirjawan

Business and politics go hand in hand in much of Asia. So, it was to be expected when a handful of politically connected operators in southeast Asia with decades of experience in banking and business between them and an enviable list of contacts decided to bring those relationships together.

Singapore-based private equity firm Ikhlas Capital was launched in 2019, but the idea for such a firm had been germinating for several years.

In late 2015, Cesar Purisima was preparing to step down from his post as finance secretary in the Philippines. The technocrat from Mindanao gave a speech to London business think tank Asia House during his international lap of honour.

Purisima, who was five years into his term, had been Manila’s longest-serving finance minister in the post-Marcos era. He had been awarded various international gongs – including Euromoney’s coveted Finance Minister of the Year award in 2012 – for his role restoring investor confidence in an economy that had long been dubbed an Asian basket case.


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