* Fund would be Baring’s 7th in Asia and largest
* Expected to close in 8-12 mnths - source
* PE firms targeting Asia as investors hunt for growth
By Carol Zhong and Kane Wu
HONG KONG, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Hong Kong-based Baring Private Equity Asia is aiming to raise $6 billion in a new Asian private equity fund, as investors hungry for growth in emerging markets fuel a regional fund-raising bonanza, five people with knowledge told Reuters.
Baring’s 7th Asia fund and largest to date is expected to close in eight to 12 months, said one of the people, who could not be named as the information is confidential. Baring declined to comment.
Global and regional private equity firms have raised a total of $48.2 billion in Asia-focused funds this year, already surpassing 2016’s full-year amount of $43 billion, according to data provider Preqin.
The surge comes as investors worldwide continue to allocate capital to catch growing market and economic momentum in countries including China and India, pushing up the average fund size.
Baring’s new Asia fund would be the biggest in the region since KKR & Co (KKR.N) closed a record $9.3 billion Asia-focused buyout fund in June, surpassing similar fundraising efforts by global peers such as Carlyle Group (CG.O) and Blackstone Group LP (BX.N).
Carlyle is reaching first-close of a planned $5 billion Asian buyout fund, while Blackstone is seeking to raise up to $3 billion in its first pan-Asia buyout fund, aiming to lock in the first-tranche of investment by the end of 2017, sources told Reuters previously.
Chinese firms Primavera Capital Group and CITIC Private Equity also plan to raise new dollar-denominated funds of about $2.8 billion and up to $2.2 billion respectively.
Baring Asia, one of the largest regional funds, is busy striking deals alongside fundraising. It is nearing a deal to acquire Wall Street English from Pearson for $350 million to 400 million, in a consortium with Chinese private-equity firm CITIC Capital Holdings, Reuters reported in October.
The firm has also submitted a first-round bid for Trimco International Holdings, a garment label maker owned by Switzerland-based investment firm Partners Group, according to a person with direct knowledge. The company could be valued at over $600 million, according to sources involved in the transaction.
Baring had no comment on the deal. Partners Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Baring started operating its first Asian private-equity fund in 1999 at $305 million, and over the years has grown into one of the largest independent investment firms in the region with over $10 billion of committed capital. Its last fund was raised in 2015 at $4 billion.
Its portfolio companies include U.K.-based affordable fashion brand Cath Kidston, corporate services firm Vistra Group and state-owned Chinese company COFCO Meat, in which it has a minority stake. (Reporting by Carol Zhong of Basis Point and Kane Wu; Editing by Stephen Coates)