'So many changes are taking place'
What does your work involve?
My work mainly involves the various legal aspects of private equity funds, from formation to management and compliance. I tend to work with institutional clients rather than retail fund managers. Basically, there are two fronts to what I do: working with institutional firms such as insurance companies that have capital available for investment, and working with mainland financial institutions and state-owned enterprises that are looking to raise capital from abroad, either to invest in projects on the mainland or invest offshore.
I also advise China-based general partners on the establishment of dollar-denominated offshore funds and RMB-denominated funds, and provide counsel on related regulatory matters that affect the day-to-day operation of the funds in China.
How did you get to where you are today?
I received my BA and MA in English from Nankai University in Tianjin, China, before moving to the US in 1996, where I received my JD from Yale Law School. Before joining Proskauer, I worked as a lawyer for Mayer Brown. I also worked as a lawyer in the New York offices of Simpson Thacher and Ropes and Gray.
What excites you about your work?
Having been away from China for a few years, it is exciting to be back at a time when so many changes are taking place, particularly the developments taking place in the area in which I work. For example, the mainland government is making it easier for home-based institutions to raise capital from overseas and is actively encouraging companies to look abroad. At the same time, the private equity fund business is very attractive, but still relatively new in China, so working with clients is not just about providing legal advice, but also helping them to learn more about international practices.
I also enjoy the interaction with industry participants, which allows me to exchange ideas and keep pace with new developments. Because the private equity fund sector is still growing in China, I need to pay attention to changing procedures, legal developments and regulations. As I am based in Beijing, it is easier for our clients to contact me, and the US and Europe time difference is eliminated.
In your role, how do you plan to grow the business?
In the short term, as a leading firm in the US and Europe, one of Proskauer’s goals is to further integrate its established US and European practices with the development of the Asia fund-formation industry. This will not only better serve our global clients in Asia, it will also provide better service to our mainland clients who are looking to invest overseas in addition to their home market. In the longer term, this will add strength and help to further integrate the China private equity fund industry into the global fund industry.
How does your previous experience of working overseas help you in your current role?
Simply because the private equity fund business in China is in a growing stage, I get asked different questions compared with the questions I would expect to be asked in the US. I see this as positive because I am able to advise clients and help them with international best practices. I am also able to leverage Proskauer’s network and experience to provide advice. This said, as mainland fund managers become more established, I fully expect to see them develop track records, which in turn will make the Chinese private equity fund industry stronger.
What impact is internationalising the renminbi likely to have on the private equity fund industry?
We have seen a number of incremental steps taken towards internationalising the RMB and this looks set to continue. One recent move is the Shanghai Qualified Domestic Limited Partner pilot programme (QDLP), which allows offshore hedge fund managers to raise RMB in China to invest offshore. The Chinese government is also incrementally relaxing regulations regarding incoming and outgoing currency flows for investment funds. These moves are pointing towards adding new opportunities for the fund industry in a more simplified operating environment.
Yong Ren, Partner, Proskauer