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MOVES-Ex-Warburg real estate veteran to team up with Hillhouse - sources

HONG KONG, Aug 20 (Reuters) - A former Warburg Pincus LLC managing director focusing on Asia real estate has left the firm to explore opportunities with Hillhouse Capital Group, sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Joe Gagnon, who was once Warburg’s head of Asia real estate, left the U.S. private equity firm last month, two of the sources said.

He is in talks with Asia-focused private equity firm Hillhouse to develop its real estate capabilities, said one of the sources, adding his role there has not been finalized.

The two firms declined to comment. Gagnon,who sources said is on garden leave in the United States, did not respond to a query for comment.

The people declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Founded in 2005 by Chinese businessman Zhang Lei with seed funding from Yale University’s endowment, Hillhouse is best known for its early investments in Chinese tech giants Tencent Holdings, JD.COM Inc and Baidu Inc.

It raised $10.6 billion in Asia’s biggest private equity fund two years ago, which invests across the healthcare, consumer, technology and services sectors globally, with a focus on the region.

Hillhouse does not have a real estate fund or a team specializing in the sector, according to its website. The firm was part of a consortium that won a $11.6 billion bid here in 2017 to buy out Singapore-based Global Logistic Properties (GLP), Asia's biggest warehouse operator.

It is also an investor in Chinese online real estate broker KE Holdings Inc, which owns property brokerage brand Lianjia and housing transactions platform Beike. The company last week raised $2.12 billion in a New York Stock Exchange initial public offering, the largest Chinese IPO in the United States since March 2018.

Formerly based in Beijing, Gagnon had a 15-year career with Warburg Pincus, according to his LinkedIn profile. He oversaw Warburg Pincus’ real estate portfolio, including logistics platform ESR and property rental firm Nova, with other senior partners in China and Southeast Asia.

Prior to that, he was with GE Capital real estate in New York. (Reporting by Kane Wu and Julie Zhu in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Chibuike Oguh in New York)

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