Hong Kong-based private equity firm PAG is getting its entry into Asia Pacific’s quickening data centre race onto the track with the announcement this month of a formal corporate identity and expanded management team for the digital infrastructure platform led by industry veteran Kris Kumar.
After announcing in August that it had hired Kumar — formerly vice chairman of Bain Capital-backed Chindata Group — to lead its digital infrastructure venture, PAG, which ranks among Asia’s largest private equity firms with $45 billion in assets under management, recently unveiled the Flow Digital Infrastructure brand, while vowing to becoming a player in one of the region’s hottest asset classes.
“PAG Real Estate has been actively investing in digital infrastructure over the past few years, and we expect to make significant investments in the sector in the years ahead,” said PAG group president Jon-Paul Toppino in a company press release. “With Flow Digital Infrastructure, we are leveraging PAG’s experience, expertise and access to capital to create one of Asia’s leading companies in this space.”
The roll out of Flow brings PAG into head on competition with global specialists such as Equinix, which recently established a $575 million joint venture with PGIM Real Estate to expand its Australia footprint, and regional rivals like Gaw Capital, which expanded its digital infrastructure holdings into Southeast Asia in July with the establishment of Singapore-based platform Data Center First.
Decades of Experience
To help Kumar gain ground in the data centre derby, Flow has hired four top level executives, including a pair of former senior leaders at Digital Realty, where Kumar had served as senior vice president and regional head of Asia Pacific from 2010 and 2014.
Teruo Iwamoto, who joined chief financial officer and head of acquisitions for digital infrastructure initiatives for PAG in October, took on the titles of CFO and head of acquisitions at Flow this month while continuing his role at the parent firm. Prior to his move to PAG, Iwamoto served for a year at ESR as director of fund management and capital for data centres, where he was responsible for data centre investment and fund management until October of this year.
Before joining ESR, Singapore-based Iwamoto was director of acquisition and investments for Asia Pacific at Digital Realty from 2017 to 2020.
Another Digital Realty graduate, Grant Yabsley, is joining Flow as director of corporate development for Southeast Asia, based in Singapore, after consulting independently for the past two years.
Before serving stints with DCI Data Centers and Tata Communications from 2015 through 2019, Yabsley had worked together with with Kumar at Digital Realty in Singapore when he was employed there as director of acquisitions and investments for Asia Pacific from 2012 through 2015.
Joining Flow as director of corporate development for North Asia is Ari Druker, who has worked in real estate finance and investment banking for 25 years including roles at Deutsche Securities, Tokyo Star bank and Jones Lang LaSalle, and specialises in data centre financing.
Among them, the new team holds over eight decades of experience in the Asian digital infrastructure space, spanning investment, acquisition, financing and project development.
Ready for APAC Expansion
Flow’s senior hires have been announced just months after chairman Kris Kumar put aside his retirement plans to take on the role of chairman of the regional data centre startup, teaming up with PAG as data centre firms scrambled to find fresh talent.
The region-wide search for senior data centre leadership has accelerated over the past year, with Singapore-based Digital Edge naming a former senior member of JP Morgan’s investment team, Yaniv Ghitis, as chief investment officer in August of this year.
In July, Gaw Capital Partners brought aboard industry veteran Kok-Chye Ong, a former Keppel Data Centres strategist, to lead its server-hosting platform in Asia ex-China.
Just last month, US data centre startup Stack expanded into Asia with the announcement of a base in Singapore, and the private equity firm tapped Pithambar “Preet” Gona, a former colleague of Kumar’s from Chindata’s Bridge Data Centres division, as chief executive officer for Asia Pacific.