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Axiom raises $440m for Asia fund-of-funds

Axiom Asia has achieved a final close on an Asia-focused fund-of-funds, raising $440 million in less than a year since it set up. Asia Alternatives and Emerald Hill are also raising their first Asia-dedicated fund-of-funds.

Axiom Asia, an independent fund-of-funds manager based in Singapore, has raised $440 million at the third and final close of an Asia dedicated investment vehicle.

“We held a final close on the fund on 15 March, having reached a hard cap set early on with our lead investors, and exceeding our target of $350 million,” Lam Chihtsung, a co-founder and managing director of Axiom told PEO.

Founded in April 2006 by former GIC Special Investments executives, Axiom intends to replicate the success of European fund-of-funds such as Pantheon and Partners Group, according to the firm’s co-founders.

“The idea of an Asian fund-of-funds had been conceptualised for a while. We saw what happened in Europe through the nineties while still at GIC, and felt Asia will undergo a similar evolution. Many institutional investors had limited resources, but covering broad investment mandates and geographies, so the fund-of-funds model became the solution.”

Until recently, there were no independent Asia-focused fund-of-funds. Axiom and its competitors, Asia Alternatives and Emerald Hill, are relatively new groups that have been established in the past 18 months or so.

“The ideal group would be a spinout from an Asian institutional LP, and there aren’t that many around compared to the US and Europe. GIC is a leading brand and highly credible. It engages in fund investment, direct investments and co-investments. We felt we had a compelling proposition,” Lam said.

Axiom was established with early pre-commitments from William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Comprehensive Financial Management, a multi-family office.

In the same month Axiom was established, the firm held a first close on its fund with a combined $91.5 million from its two early backers. In December 2006, when the fund had its second close, the amount grew to $275 million.

“More than seventy-five percent of our LPs come from the US, and the remaining are from Europe, Asia and the Middle East,” Lam said.

There were five categories of investors, the largest being the endowment funds, followed by foundations and family offices. The remaining groups are the financial institutions and pension funds.

Goh Yew Hong, Lam’s partner said: “We’ve adopted a tripolar strategy that includes buyout funds especially for Japan, mid-market growth capital and venture capital funds.”

China, Japan and India rank as the top three markets for Axiom. The secondary markets are Southeast Asia, Australia and Korea.

“China is top just because it offers the best risk-return profile. It is also where IPOs and bank financings have been harder to access compared to even India. Australia, on the other hand, is where all the action was in 2006, but is one market we are approaching with caution,” Goh said.

Lam and Goh, together with Edmund Ng Chi Man founded Axiom. The trio were later joined by Marc Lau, previously an associate at GIC Special Investments.

Probitas Partners acted as the placement agent for Axiom.