New LPs propel SUSI’s Asia Energy Transition Fund to $81m first close

Despite a slow start, head of Asia Wymen Chan remains confident the fund’s first close will help lift the fundraising pace on its $250m target.

Swiss fund manager SUSI PartnersAsia Energy Transition Fund has reached an $81 million first close, less than one-third of the $250 million target set by the vehicle when it was launched in September 2019.

The fund, which is focused on the energy transition in Southeast Asia, initially aimed to reach a first close during the first quarter of 2020 and a final close by the third quarter of 2021.

“It’s taken a bit longer than expected, but all fundraising processes have [their] ups and downs,” SUSI Partners managing director Wymen Chan told Infrastructure Investor. “We think fundraising will pick up now that we’ve achieved first closing.”

Chan anticipated that the fund – which has a $300 million hard-cap – would reach its target size in 2022. He added that a more specific timeframe for the fund’s final close was difficult to predict at this stage, due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

“The issue here of course is covid-19 […] travel restrictions have somewhat delayed a lot of processes,” Chan said.

Five of the six investors to have committed to the fund are new to SUSI Partners. Among those contributing to the first close are the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which confirmed a commitment of $50 million, Dutch development bank FMO, and Nordic direct foreign investors Norfund and Swedfund. Private institutional investors from Germany and Singapore have also contributed.

According to Chan, the fund has a “strong pipeline” of projects it is likely to invest in before the end of the year. No investments have been made to date.

“We expect to execute on two or three transactions within 2021,” said Chan. “One of the investments that we are planning for is in the energy efficiency space. It’s a regional platform with projects in places like Malaysia and Vietnam.

“[The] second transaction that we are considering right now is a micro-grid platform. It’s solar-plus-batteries in off-grid areas, supporting industries that tend to be off-grid like aquaculture and, to a certain extent, agriculture as well.”

Chan said the third transaction being considered for potential investment before the end of the year was a renewable energy platform in Vietnam, primarily comprised of solar and wind.

Chan joined SUSI Partners as head of its Singapore office in August 2018. His appointment followed the sudden departure of the firm’s managing director for the region, Edgare Kerkwijk, who had been leading efforts to launch a Southeast Asia-dedicated vehicle.

The AETF was initially intended to be a joint venture between SUSI Partners and financier the South Pole Group, before the partnership fell through in December 2018, further delaying the fund’s launch.