Baird Capital eyes Asian SMEs for global fund

The Chicago-based firm has already begun lining up deals and will invest between $15-50m per transaction.

Chicago-headquartered private equity firm Baird Capital is targeting small and medium-sized companies in Asia for its first global fund, Private Equity International has learned.

The firm is raising $300 million for the Baird Capital Global Fund I, its first global fund that will invest across global companies, unlike the firm’s previous country-specific vehicles, which include China-focused Baird Capital Partners Asia that raised $75 million in 2010 and UK-focused Baird Capital Partners Europe II that closed on £60 million in 2014.

Baird also raised $185 million for its latest venture capital fund, Fund IV, in November 2014, PEI data indicated.

The global fund, which was launched in July 2016 according to PEI data, will focus on healthcare, technology and services, and industrial solutions. Typical equity cheques will range between $15 million to $50 million.

The firm expects to hold a final close before year-end, a source with knowledge of the fundraising told PEI. Out of the fund’s Asia allocation, China will account for the biggest stake, according to the source.

Baird declined to comment on fundraising.

The firm had already made a commitment to bolstering its Asia footprint when it hired Andy Tse, a former managing director at Hong Kong-based private equity firm AIF Capital, to lead its Asia investment office in Shanghai last month.

“Our main focus is minority growth capital opportunities, in which we team up with entrepreneurs, supported by a strong management team, who would like to become national or regional champions in their respective sectors,” Tse told PEI at the time.

He added that the firm is seeing a “reasonable deal pipeline for Asia”, noting that the firm is currently looking at new transactions and is already in the due diligence phase with some of these.

Founded in 1989, Baird is the direct private investment arm of investment bank Robert W. Baird & Co. The firm’s assets in client accounts grew to $151 billion in 2015, an 83 percent increase over the past five years, its latest annual report showed.

Since inception the firm has invested in over 295 middle and lower-middle market companies specialising in healthcare, technology and services and industrial solutions.

Among its investments in the region are Boston Plastics, a high precision plastic injection moulding and sub-assemblies company headquartered in Singapore with manufacturing facilities in China, as well as Kedu Healthcare, a medical equipment company based in Shanghai, the firm said on its website.