Blackstone’s Jeff French joins OMERS PE office in Singapore

OMERS opened the Singapore office in early 2018. The hire of Jeff French suggests OMERS Private Equity could be preparing to make its debut Asia-Pacific investment.

OMERS Private Equity recruited Jeff French as an investment director in its office in Singapore, a person with knowledge of the matter told Buyouts.

French joined this month from Blackstone Group, where he worked for about six years as an investment professional. French operated from Blackstone’s Singapore office with a focus on deal activity in the Asia-Pacific region.

French participated in several major Blackstone investments. They include DCI Data Centers, an Australian wholesale data center provider, and Ixom, an Australian water treatment chemicals supplier.

DCI was sold earlier in 2019 to a consortium led by Brookfield Asset Management’s infrastructure arm for $272 million. Ixom was sold the year before to Keppel Infrastructure Trust in a deal that reportedly valued the business at more than $800 million.

Before joining Blackstone in 2013, French was an investment banker with Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs.

OMERS declined to comment on this story.

OMERS, a C$97 billion ($73 billion) Canadian pension fund, opened the Singapore office early last year. The location is intended to diversify OMERS’ investments by giving it more access to direct deals and other opportunities in emerging markets, leveraged with local partners.

The PE group’s Asia-Pacific strategy is led by Managing Director David Payne. He moved to Singapore in 2018 after working for nine years in OMERS’ London office with responsibility for direct deals in Europe.

The hire of French suggests OMERS Private Equity could be preparing to make its debut Asia-Pacific investment. Previously, the group has focused primarily on direct opportunities in North America and Europe.

OMERS has developed an Asia-Pacific track record in part through OMERS Infrastructure, which recently closed several deals in the region. They include an investment this year in India’s IndInfravit, owner of a portfolio of toll road concessions.

Action item: Reach OMERS Private Equity at its Toronto headquarters here: 416-369-2400

(This story has been updated to indicate the source and feedback from OMERS.)