Exclusive: Baring plots sixth Asia fund

Jean-Eric Salata's firm expects to officially launch the vehicle in May, targeting up to $2.9bn.

Pan-regional firm Baring Private Equity Asia is in the process of launching its sixth private equity fund, a vehicle that will raise as much as $2.9 billion from investors, sources with direct knowledge of the matter revealed to Private Equity International.

While a specific target has not been set, one source confirmed that the fund would be larger than the $2.46 billion predecessor vehicle, but not as high as $3 billion. The firm has enlisted UBS to act as placement agent for the fundraising.

The firm expects to launch around early May, with its annual general meeting being held during the first week of the month in Hong Kong, another source said, adding that Baring is currently meeting with investors to talk about the status of its existing portfolio.

Baring and UBS both declined to comment.

Baring’s fifth fund, a 2011 vintage, is now around 60-65 percent deployed, with the firm “so far delivering what they’ve promised” to investors, one source explained.

The new vehicle should therefore enjoy a high re-up rate from investors, although it is still too early to know exactly how many will come back for the vehicle, he said.

The fund expects to make a first close by the end of the year.

Baring invests in buyout and growth capital opportunities across Asia Pacific, excluding Australia. The firm has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Mumbai, Singapore, Jakarta and Tokyo.

It typically invests around 30-40 percent of its capital in China-based businesses and has recently secured the largest privatisation of a US-listed Chinese company since the $3.7 billion Focus Media buyout in December 2012.

In March, Baring, along with China country manager Hony Capital, entered into an agreement to buy China-based online gaming company Giant Interactive with founder Yuzhu Shi. The deal will be worth $3 billion and use $850 million in debt financing, PEI reported earlier.

Baring has also been highly active in India recently, as other firms have taken a step back, investing in Hexaware Technologies and Lafarge India last year, as well as sealing a $140 million buyout of Korean parcel delivery company Logen in August.

Last month, Baring also secured an exit from its Indonesia-based airline cargo and catering company Cardig Aero Services, according to an earlier statement from the firm. Baring sold its 41.65 percent stake to Singapore Airport Terminal Services for $93.5 million.

Baring, headed by chief executive and founding partner Jean-Eric Salata, has scaled up in recent years, investing and divesting rapidly across its Asia Pacific markets, as well as developing a 9-person in-house operational team to do the hands-on work that helps put portfolio companies on a growth trajectory, PEI reported earlier.

While Baring declined to comment on this report, Salata and his firm will be featured in next month’s issue of Private Equity International in an exclusive Privately Speaking interview.