Baring Asia raises $490m in new fund that eyes Japan

Baring Private Equity Asia has raised $490 million in a new Asia-focused fund that will be seeking opportunities in Japan for the first time, founding partner and chief executive officer, Jean Eric Salata tells PEO.

Baring Private Equity Asia, an Asian-focused private equity firm, has raised $490 million in a new fund, its first since the firm spun out of ING-sponsored Baring Private Equity Partners in 2004. Prior to the spin-out, Baring Asia had raised two funds with the support of its Dutch financial backer.

The Baring Asia Private Equity Fund III had a target of $400 million and had three times as many investors as its predecessor, Jean Eric Salata, founding partner and chief executive officer of Baring Asia said.

Salata said the new fund was almost twice the size of Fund II, which closed on $257 million in September 2002, when ING was responsible for about 25 percent of the fund total commitment.

He said Baring Asia attracted the participation of 35 investors. The list includes Pantheon, Invesco, Deutsche Bank, Saudi Arabia’s SEDCO, and Dow (Chemicals) employees’ pension plan.

Fund III will continue to target mid-sized companies across sectors in China, India, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and for the first time, Japan, said Salata. China, however, will continue to dominate, with up to 70 percent of the fund for investment in Asia’s fastest growing economy, Salata asserted.

The fund has already invested $125 million in four Chinese companies, “all proprietary deals,” Salata said. They include a $22.5 million investment in auto parts manufacturer, Minth Group, which was subsequently listed on Hong Kong stock exchange in 2005.

Salata said: “We are not selling yet. We invested in Minth in August 2005, right after a first close on Fund III.”

So far this year, Fund III made three additional investments in private tertiary education, industrial gas production and distribution as well as natural resource.