Private equity in Australia is looking up

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If you're an Australian with experience of working in private equity funds, now could be the time to contemplate going home. The industry down under is looking up.

There are plenty of indicators of Australia's robust private equity scene. US-based Carlyle Group is opening a new Sydney office. JPMorgan Partners Asia recently opened a new office in Melbourne. X.D Yang, co-head of Carlyle's Asian private equity operation said Australia was one of the group's strongest markets in Asia. And in June, the tax climate for foreign private equity investors became suddenly more favourable when the Australian government pledged to remove capital gains tax for non-residents.

Locally-based funds are also awash with cash. Earlier this year, Macquarie Capital Alliance Group (MCAG), the private equity arm of Macquarie Bank, raised an AUS $1bn ($766m) fund with a global investment mandate.

Little surprise therefore, that Australian private equity funds are hiring. Derwent Executive Recruitment, a search firm with offices in Sydney and Melbourne, is advertising for a private equity associate with investment banking, strategy consulting, or previous private equity experience. Jon Michel Executive Search, another Australian agency, also has jobs in the sector.

"As private equity funds raise more management fees they can spend more money on junior and mid-level resources," says Jon Michel. "There are an increasing number of openings for analysts and associates."

Michel says people with UK-gained private equity experience are popular with Australian funds. "People from the UK have gained a lot of deal experience and had to work harder to source deals in a mature market," he says. "That's what's we need - funds cashed up like crazy here and there are no easy pickings."

Ideal candidates are returning Aussies, or people with a long-term commitment to settling in Australia. Pay is improving: Michel says an analyst with an Australian fund can expect a base salary of AUS$120,000 to $130,000, while an associate can expect $140,000 to $150,000. Bonuses range from 50% to 100%.

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