Ollie Curme is forming a China-focused private equity firm, after having invested stateside for more than 20 years as a general partner with Wellesley, Mass.-based Battery Ventures. The new firm’s focus will be split between buyouts and venture investing. The effort is tentatively named Shanghai Ventures, and expects to begin fund-raising in January.
Curme has been investing his own money into Chinese companies for more than a year, but doesn’t want to be just another U.S. private equity guy looking for the next big early-stage tech hit like Baidu.com or KongZhong Corp. Instead, he wants to focus on almost everything except for technology, including sectors like manufacturing, medical devices, logistics and energy.
“I’ve been investing personally in China, and my feeling is that there is a lot more there than just tech,” Curme explained. “The Silicon Valley firms are all over that, but what about energy, or supply chains or everything else?”
Shanghai Ventures will invest between $10 million and $50 million into revenue-generating non-tech companies, which makes the strategy look a bit like a miniaturized version of what The Carlyle Group is doing in China (Carlyle is said to have a $50 million minimum). It currently is finalizing a sponsorship agreement with a Chinese government entity, and will begin fund-raising in January. Overall, the firm expects to employ 20 investment professionals, including an undisclosed number of partners.
Curme will remain in his general partner role with Battery, but will not make any new investments on its behalf. It was unclear at press time if he would maintain his chairmanship of New America Partners, a firm set up two years ago with former Summit Partners CFO Thomas Farb, to invest in U.S.-based companies that would benefit from moving their manufacturing bases to China. One source familiar with Battery said to expect Shanghai Ventures and New America Partners to have a close working relationship, while Farb said he was launching a hedge fund focused on China.