Highland Poaches China VCs from Intel Capital

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Highland Capital Partners said on Wednesday that it has hired two senior executives from Intel Capital in China to join its Shanghai office as managing directors to help the U.S. firm boost its China deals.

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 Capital this week, the Lexington, Massachusetts-based venture capital fund said in a statement.

“John and I were colleagues at Intel Capital and both of us have recently begun to work for Highland Capital in Shanghai,” Yeh told Reuters.

Yeh was also chief representative of Intel Capital China.

Before joining Intel Capital, Yeh was a Hong Kong-based investment banker at Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) First Boston, where he led work on the initial public offerings of Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (0981.HK) (SMIC) and Linktone Ltd (LTON.O).

Hsin has previously been Asia-based 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.

Highland Capital, which invests in seed, early stage and growth stage companies in the communications, consumer, digital media, healthcare and information technology sectors, currently manages eight funds with combined capital of $2.96 billion, according to its website (www.hcp.com).

Its first fund was established in 1988.

Highland Capital’s China portfolio currently includes UUSee, a popular 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 both global firms expanding in China and with local funds that are popular among entrepreneurial Chinese.

By George Chen