Highland poaches China VCs from Intel Capital

Highland Capital Partners announced last week that it has hired two senior executives from Intel Capital in China to join its Shanghai-based office.

Kuantai Yeh, a former managing director of Intel Capital, the investment arm of Intel Corp., and John Hsin, who was a director at Intel Capital in China, joined Highland as managing directors to help the U.S. firm boost its China deals.

Before joining Intel Capital, Yeh was a Hong Kong-based investment banker at Credit Suisse First Boston, where he led work on the IPOs of Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) and Linktone Ltd.

Hsin previously was a partner for Crystal Ventures, where he was involved in several of the firm’s major investments in Asia, including SMIC.

Intel Capital declined to comment on the departures or on Yeh’s replacement.

Lexington, Mass.-based Highland Capital, which invests in seed, early stage and growth stage companies, focuses on the communications, consumer, digital media, health care and information technology sectors. The firm raised $800 million for an early stage fund in 2006 and $300 million last year for a fund called Highland Consumer Fund I Family.

Highland Capital’s China portfolio currently includes UUSee, an online video-sharing site, and Qihoo, an Internet search engine founded by former executives of Yahoo China.

Private equity and venture capital have only a brief history so far in China, although domestic mergers and acquisitions have been growing rapidly in recent years in tandem with the country’s strong economic growth.

Turnover among partners and portfolio managers is high in China as foreign funds compete for talent with global firms expanding in China and with local funds that are popular among entrepreneurial Chinese. —Reuters